After studying 110 children and young adults who were overweight or at‐risk for, overweight and obesity, researchers at the National Institute of Health found that “fat shaming” over the long term, may only make overweight kids gain more weight.
Published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, the study found that youngsters, who said they were teased about their weight, saw an average body mass increase of 33 percent more each year, or 44 lbs., and a 91 percent greater gain in fat mass compared with the control group, who did not report any teasing.
The findings contradict the school of thought that maintains that “weight-based bullying” might motivate kids to change their behavior, and lose weight.
According to the longitudinal study, participants were around 12 years-old and were either overweight, or had two parents who were overweight or obese (to be “at risk” for being overweight, children had to have two parents who were overweight or obese).
During the first visit, youngsters shared their perception on how often they were bullied or teased for their weight. The researchers continued to follow-up with the participants for the next 15 years and ultimately found that weight-based victimization made children more likely to binge eat and avoid exercise. The study also theorized that the stress of being bullied could fire off the release of cortisol, a hormone which can stimulate appetite.