Bullying children who are overweight may lead to more weight gain, study finds

Children who are teased or mocked about their weight may end up gaining more weight as they age, a recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found.

The study involved 110 kids who were an average of 11.8 years old when they enrolled in the research. Participants were considered overweight according to their body mass index or had two parents who were overweight or obese.

When the children first started the study, they completed a six-item questionnaire on whether or not they had been bullied about their weight. Researchers then followed up with the children annually over the next 15 years.

At the end of the study, researchers found that children who were bullied often gained an average of 0.44 pounds per year, which is more than those who weren't teased.

The authors of the study believe that weight-associated stigmas made the children more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as binge-eating or not exercising. They also believed that bullying led to higher levels of stress, which causes the release of cortisol and that hormone can also lead to weight gain.

The study was conducted by Natasha A. Shvey, of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, along with colleagues from the National Institutes of Health's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.