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Lasting mental effects of discrimination in adolescents

The bullying experienced by overweight adolescents can lead to significant emotional problems in later life. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology it has been found that the demeaning responses from overweight people’s peers cause them to feel distressed. The study itself included data from 5,128 individuals across schools in California aged 11-13, the analysis examined the relationship between BMI and emotional health using questionnaires about weight discrimination experiences.
About 1 in 3 students reported at least one weight-related discriminatory experience, and by age 13 many girls had reported feeling physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and nausea following episodes of loneliness after such experiences. At the moment, many school based programmes are aimed at reducing the overall prevalence of obesity, however this study highlights that many of these weight management programmes may be increasing the amount of stigma towards overweight individuals. Therefore, more must be done to increase weight acceptance and body-shape diversity, whilst also promoting healthy behaviours, a complicated compromise.

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