Is Your Child a Target of Weight Bias?
What is weight bias?
Children who are overweight or obese are vulnerable to weight bias. This means that they may be the target of negative attitudes in the form of stereotypes, prejudice and unfair treatment because of their weight. Weight bias can be expressed in different ways, such as verbal comments (e.g., name-calling, derogatory comments, and teasing), physical aggression (e.g., being pushed, shoved, kicked, and bullied), and social exclusion (e.g., being avoided, ignored, and excluded by others).
Why does weight bias happen?
We live in a culture where being thin is desirable. The mass media and our billion-dollar diet industry communicate messages that it is “bad to be fat” and good to be thin. A consequence of these messages is that people who are overweight are often wrongly presumed to have negative characteristics (e.g., such as being lazy). These messages are so common in television, film, advertising, books, and magazines that it has become socially acceptable to stigmatize people who are overweight. Unfortunately, youth are frequent targets of this form of bias.
How does weight bias affect my child?
Children and adolescents who experience weight bias are vulnerable to a number of consequences that can affect their emotional and physical well-being. Often, children who are teased because of their weight have lower self-esteem, poor body image, and are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to avoid physical activities at school (where teasing often occurs), and they may be more likely to cope with the stress of being teased by eating food or ‘binge-eating’. These are all serious problems that warrant your attention.
How do I know if my child is being targeted?
Look for the following signs that may indicate your child is a target of weight bias:
- Your child is teased about his/her weight at school by peers
- Your child is teased about his/her weight by siblings, cousins, or other family members
- Your child is very sensitive about his/her weight, or does not want to talk about it
- Your child does not like going to school, or wants to avoid school activities with peers
- Your child is self-conscious about his/her appearance and how clothes fit
- Your child is self-conscious about participating in physical activities
- Your child is showing signs of sadness or depression
- Your child seems to have few friends
- Your child is bullying others – sometimes, children who are teased about their weight react by becoming bullies themselves.
Reprinted with the permission of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University
Add your own comment
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Smart Parenting During and After Divorce: Introducing Your Child to Your New Partner