Weight-Based Bullying

In a recent study, adults in the United States, Canada, Iceland, and Australia said that weight is one of the most common reasons why children are bullied. 

Dr. Rebecca Puhl, the author of the the report, told the New York Times, 

It is actually legal to discriminate on the basis of weight, and that sends a message that bias, unfair treatment or bullying of overweight children is tolerable.

Due to the increasing rate of obesity, Dr. Puhl said there is a stigma when it comes to weight issues -- she said that overweight youth are blamed and criticized for their weight. She also said that weight criticism actually encourages unhealthy behaviors instead of motivating people to lose weight. For example, she found that students who were bullied for their weight often skipped PE classes in order to avoid being teased. 

Here are some interesting percentages found in the study reported by the New York TImes

  • Out of the 2,866 adults surveyed in the report, 70 percent of them said weight bullying is a common issue. 
  • Sixty nine percent of the surveyed adults labeled weight bullying a "serious" or "very serious" problem. 
  • Half of the people surveyed said that "being fat" was the most common reason for bullying.
  • Fewer than 21 percent of the people in each country listed race, ethnicity or nationality as a reason for bullying; fewer than 15 percent of the people surveyed listed sexual orientation as a reason for bullying; fewer than 12 percent said physical disability was a reason for bullying; and fewer than six percent listed religion or academics as a reason for bullying.

How can we find a balance between encouraging healthy body image and watching our children's weights?