NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Overweight children are stigmatized by their peers as early as age 3 and even face bias from their parents and teachers, giving them a quality of life comparable to people with cancer, an analysis concludes.
Youngsters who report teasing, rejection, bullying and other types of abuse because of their weight are two to three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts as well as to suffer from other health issues such as high blood pressure and eating disorders, researchers said.
“The stigmatization directed at obese children by their peers, parents, educators and others is pervasive and often unrelenting,” researchers with Yale University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa wrote in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin.
The paper was based on a review of all research on youth weight bias in the past 40 years, said lead author Rebecca M. Puhl of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
It was released during a growing worldwide epidemic of child obesity. By 2010, almost 50 percent of children in North America and 38 percent of children in the European Union will be overweight, the researchers said.