According to new research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), youth who said that they were teased, bullied or ridiculed about their weight had an increased body mass by nearly 33% each year when compared with a group of youth that had not been teased.
The study findings appeared to contradict the notion that such teasing may help motivate youth to attempt to shed those extra pounds.
The study was conducted by Natasha Schvey of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda and researchers at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
The researchers examined 110 children who were an average of 11.8 years of age when they enrolled. They were either overweight when they began the study or had two parents who were either overweight or obese.
The participants were asked six questionnaires on whether they had been teased or bullied about their weight. And then they participated in annual follow-up visits for the next 15 years.
The investigators were surprised to find that youth experiencing high levels of teasing gained an average of .44 lbs per year than those who did not. The researchers opine that the stigma associated with weight may have made them more likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, such as avoiding exercise and binge eating. They also theorize that stress of being teased might have stimulated the release of a stress hormone called cortisol, which could increase weight.