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J Adolesc Health. 2013 Jul;53(1):47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Weightism, racism, classism, and sexism: shared forms of harassment in adolescents.

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Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454, USA.



To document the prevalence of harassment on the basis of weight, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, as well as sexual harassment, among a diverse population of adolescents. Specifically, this study examined rates of each type of harassment reported across groups within the corresponding sociodemographic category (e.g., racial/ethnic category differences in prevalence of racial harassment), and also explored patterns of "cross-harassment" (i.e., differences in prevalence of each harassment type across all other sociodemographic characteristics).


We used data from Project Eating and Activity in Teens 2010 for the study. The sample was composed of 2,793 adolescents (53% female; 81% nonwhite). We conducted regression analyses to yield prevalence estimates of each type of harassment in each demographic and body mass index category.


Weight- and race-based harassment (35.3% and 35.2%, respectively) was most prevalent, followed by sexual harassment (25.0%) and socioeconomic status-based harassment (16.1%). Overweight and obese adolescents reported disproportionately higher rates of all forms of harassment than did normal-weight and underweight adolescents. In addition, Asian and mixed-/other race adolescents were more vulnerable to harassment overall compared with those from other racial/ethnic groups.


Harassment experiences are prevalent among adolescent boys and girls. Differential rates of each type of harassment are reported across groups within the corresponding sociodemographic category, but a pattern of cross-harassment also is evident, such that differences in prevalence of each type of harassment emerge across a variety of sociodemographic characteristics. Adolescents from various intersecting sociodemographic and weight-status groups are particularly vulnerable to certain types of harassment.

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