Bullying and overweight kids

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 7th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Unless you were the perky cheerleader or the popular quarterback, chances are you were picked on at least once in school.

If you were overweight, chances are you were picked on a lot.

While many overweight kids can dodge bullies’ slings and arrows, new research from the University of Florida shows bullying can keep chubby kids on the sidelines in gym class and sports.

Bullying can lead many overweight children to avoid situations where they have been picked on before, such as soccer tryouts or gym. Peer problems are also linked to depression, which can lead to a lack of interest in physical activities.

Avoiding opportunities for exercise makes it even more difficult for obese children to lose weight. U-F researchers studied a hundred children and found that as rates of bullying went up, rates of exercise went down.

Childhood habits often carry over into adulthood, so establishing a negative attitude toward physical activity early can start a dangerous cycle. Obese children generally gain more weight as they age, making it even more difficult to shed pounds.

To fight the problem, parents, teachers and doctors should try to understand why a child is not exercising. Once the problem is out in the open, it’s important to find alternate ways the child can exercise and participate in sports.

Researchers say it’s important for schools to create a zero-tolerance atmosphere for bullying in schools.

Playground taunts may make some children stronger, but sometimes words really do hurt.