The relationship between obesity and bullying has been known for decades, particularly in western societies. Having said this, the proportion of children who are considered to be obese is growing at a frenetic pace. This can present a very real issue in terms of self-esteem, socialization and happiness in general.
How many children are bullied for being obese? You might be shocked to learn that up to 44 per cent of students between the ages of five and 12 claim to have experienced some form of victimization as a result of their weight. This is why such an endemic problem must be examined in greater detail if we are to uncover possible solutions.
Can Obesity Lead to Behavioral Issues
Before moving on to discuss the causes of bullying in relation to body type, it is just as wise to take a quick look at the other side of the proverbial coin. Might obesity itself cause children to manifest specific behavioral issues. The answer is almost certainly “yes”.
Those who are overweight tend to feel isolated and therefore, they are less likely to interact with their peers. The danger here is that some may actually turn to food as a form of comfort, leading to a potentially dangerous cycle.
Children (and adults alike) who come to believe that they are pariahs may likewise experience feelings of sadness, anxiety and even depression. This is even more relevant when we take into account how social media circles are now being used as a means to target others from a distance.
How Bullying Impacts Mental Health and Self-Esteem
Bullying and obesity can occur at any age, but it is most likely to be witnessed with younger children. This is especially disturbing, as they have only begun to develop a unique image of themselves. Those who are subjected to bullying and ridicule will often feel as if the “world is out to get them”.
This sensation may even evolve into enmity towards others; a very real mental health issue in these common times. It should likewise be obvious that being ostracized from a specific group can cause irreparable harm to one’s self-esteem. If this takes place at an early age, the emotional scars may require years or even decades to heal.
Might Specific Lifestyle Patterns Lead to Obesity?
This is essentially a question of nature versus nurture. There is no doubt that genetics play an important role in determining whether one is at a greater risk of becoming obese. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Other variables such as diet and physical activity are just as relevant. Furthermore, children who grow up with obese parents are more likely to exhibit the same body type due to the fact that they tend to model adult behaviors.
The Social Stigmas of Being Overweight
It is estimated that 43 per cent of those who have been diagnosed with depression are also obese. This refers to children and adults alike (as bullying can still occur within the workplace). The social impacts of such a scenario cannot be overstated.
Not only can one begin to feel as if he or she is unable to cope with the outside world, but it may become difficult (or impossible) to establish meaningful relationships. There could also be times when obese individuals shy away from possible friendships due to the fact that they are afraid of being hurt or insulted. This is why the causes of bullying and the associated effects must be understood.
Adopting a Healthy and Proactive Mindset
It is an unfortunate fact that bullying has become rampant in today’s modern society. Furthermore, those who pick on others are rarely aware of the impacts of such actions. This is why parents, teachers and similar authority figures must present themselves as positive role models at all times.
While adults might be able to employ effective weight-loss devices such as the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon, the same cannot be said for children and adolescents. The signs of bullying may go undetected and as a result, no solutions seem to exist. These are some of the main reasons why it is crucial to halt the cycle of obesity and bullying at an early stage so that all of us can enjoy a healthy and satisfying existence.