Parental Concerns about Weight-Based Victimization in Youth

  • Puhl R
  • Luedicke J
  • DePierre J
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BACKGROUND: The present study aimed to assess parental perceptions of weight-based victimization (WBV) and its consequences for children's health as well as how perceptions of WBV vary by parental and child weight status.

METHODS: A national sample of American parents with children ages 2-18 years (N=918) completed an online questionnaire to assess their perceptions of how common WBV is, compared to other forms of victimization among youth, their level of concern with this issue both generally and for their own child, and their perceptions of behavioral and psychological consequences of WBV. Descriptive statistics and censored regression models with standardized coefficients were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS: Fifty-three percent of parents perceived "being overweight" to be the most common reason that youth are bullied, regardless of parental or child weight status. Parents, both with and without overweight children, endorsed similar levels of general concern about WBV and its psychological and behavioral consequences for youth. However, parents with overweight children were substantially more concerned about WBV affecting their child(ren) and perceived it to be more common, serious, and posed risks to their child(ren)'s health, compared to parents without overweight children.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study, to the best of the authors' knowledge, is the first to indicate that parents have substantial concerns about WBV and its health consequences for youth. These findings highlight the need for educators and pediatric healthcare providers to be aware that WBV is a common concern among families, and suggest that increased efforts are needed to address WBV.

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  • Rebecca M. Puhl

  • Joerg Luedicke

  • Jenny A. DePierre

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