Being Teased About Weight Is Not So Harmless

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 2000 Volume 11, Number 4
©2000 Gürze Books

Being teased about weight and/or appearance can have very negative repercussions, according to Michelle L. Williams and colleagues at the University of Montreal. Although the incidence of dieting and emotional eating is higher among adolescent girls, disordered eating patterns are present in elementary school children, too, and are significantly associated with the social experience of teasing. In a study of 171 children (70 boys, 101 girls) in grades 5 and 6, and 212 tenth and eleventh graders (113 boys, 99 girls), restrained eating was higher among those who were teased about being “big” or about other aspects of their appearance who were upset by the teasing than those who were teased about being big but reported not being upset about the teasing. At all levels of weight, those who were teased about being big and were upset by it reported higher levels of restrained eating than individuals who were not teased. The results of the study have important implications for primary prevention and intervention directed at children and teens.

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