How Obesity and Bullying are Connected?5 min read

Parenting Oct 8, 2021
How Obesity and Bullying Are Connected



How Obesity and Bullying are Connected?5 min read


There are endless reasons as to why bullies are commonly known to target certain individuals for abuse. Over a wide range of possible targets around, they choose the ones who are either overweight or obese. This mainly happens because such kids are comparatively easy to be aimed at. In our society, usually people have a perception that obese people aren’t fit and perfect based on their opinion. And therefore society tends to disapprove of and mock obesity, both actively and individually.

Nowadays the hard reality is that even if a child is dealing with obesity but has an excellent skill set, for instance, they might be good at interpersonal communication skills or a great academic record holder, they still tend to remain at risk. The main reason why such kids are abused is that the bullies sense vulnerabilities in them and therefore tend to exploit those things. As a result, kids who have excess weight suffer self-esteem issues. And bullies are all too eager to prey upon them!

Beyond reasonable doubts, it is true that we live in a body-conscious society. Here, it doesn’t matter whether you are a well-adjusted human being or not. If you are somebody who doesn’t have a perfect body, one day you’ll surely be mocked. 

What do studies conclude? 

  • A 2015 study depicted that 947 elementary school kids agreed upon the fact that normal-weight children and overweight children aren’t bullied that much when compared to the ones having either obesity or severe obesity.
  • Almost 25% of kids having severe obesity experience physical victimization compared to the ones having normal weight and overweight kids with a total count of 5.4% and 8.7% respectively.
  • Surprisingly, 20% of children dealing with severe obesity were excluded from group activities. Whereas only 5.4% of normal-weight children and 10.4% of overweight kids were excluded from the activities due to miscellaneous reasons.

Possible reasons why certain kids bully others?

  • It is quite complex to understand why children with obesity themselves become BULLIES! There are several studies conducted to understand this nature amongst children. The researchers finally concluded that obese kids bully because they are either reflecting the same behavior they’ve experienced. This nature is often referred to as bully victims
  • In such a case, instead of seeing their weight as a deficit, bullies with obesity use their size to their maximum advantage. As a result, they wield more power over a smaller victim. 
  • The second possibility is that they act very aggressively towards others who are ‘bullies’ and they are seen to be discouraging the ones who bully others.

What if we don’t take this matter seriously?

Bullying hits hard and wounds deeply. Here we have a list of common after effects that might struck a child dealing with obesity and possibly bullying. 

  • We often overlook cases where kids face eating disorders due to a past record caused by a history of being teased or ridiculed based on their size or weight.
  • Body shaming is a sin. And it often crushes the self-esteem and confidence of another human being. You never know what the other person might be going through.
  • According to a report, obese women deal with high levels of body shame reports. In most such cases, they face higher amounts of infections, poor health, digestive trouble, headaches and much more. 
  • Nowadays, more and more people deal with social anxiety that often results when they face rejection, due to their weight or physical appearance. It is common to observe such females being ashamed of their natural bodily functions and daily life activities such as menstruating, sweating, dancing and much more. Because of all this, they tend to be more prone to illness and disease.
  • Kids having obesity are 2-3 times more likely to report thoughts of either committing suicide or engaging in self-harming behavior.
  • Such an issue can even lead to impulse control problems wherein they may pretend to be aggressive towards others in response to emotions they can neither fully understand nor control.
  • We all are aware of the fact that food is utterly important for getting nutrients, but at such times one may even start hating food in order to overcome the feeling of hopelessness.

How to stop bullying?

It is quite difficult to break this cycle of bullying and getting back to normal even in the best of circumstances. Along with the stress of being bullied, it may even need you to deal with the victims’ emotional as well as psychological issues as well. 

There are some effective recommendations stated by the National Crime Prevention Council for the kids who are targets of bullying. We have mentioned some of the most important ones below. You may go through them and find a solution to your problem.

  • Tell your kids that it isn’t their fault and that they are not to be blamed in any possible way. 
  • You must talk to them regarding their feelings. You’ll definitely get to know whether they are dealing with such a problem or not. This is because bullying usually brings up emotions that extend well beyond the abuse itself.
  • You must try to reach out to higher authorities if the bully doesn’t stop even after getting a warning.
  • Only if a child is assertive and tends to stand up for themself, then only they will be able to handle the issue. Teach them to be calm and mature, instead of being violent.
  • You must always praise their positive attributes as well as their core strengths rather than pointing out any flaws. This proves to be significantly true with overweight and obese kids.


Coming to a conclusion, we notice that the relationship between obesity and bullying is quite complicated. But once you understand the connections between the two, you will surely be able to understand how to deal with such kids. Reports suggest that over the last two decades, the prevalence of childhood obesity is rapidly increasing and has doubled in meantime. In the majority of such cases, obesity further gets associated with undesirable psychological and social consequences. Some common consequences include impaired peer relationships, bad school experiences, and poor psychological well being. 


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