Weight Criticism May Lead to Lack of Exercise
Children being children, it comes as no great surprise that the more overweight children receive much teasing (specified by the following study as weight criticism) when involved in exercise situations. While this can often lead to a refusal to participate, it can also lead to the development of coping mechanisms.
A New York study has examined this scenario in 576 children between 11 and 14 years of age. Girls and heavier children were more likely to be teased during exercise. Children who were teased were, not surprisingly, less likely to admit to enjoying sports and were more likely to be inactive. Some developed a coping strategy of thinking about how to deal with their situation. This might include discussing the situation with others, or being more assertive. Those who used avoidance were more affected by the teasing.
The authors consider that teasing may contribute to the widespread problems of reduced exercise and rising weight in American children. These observations will need to be considered in devising strategies to cope with the weight problem in the child population.
Source: Faith MS,et al. Pediatrics 2002;110:e23