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Pediatr Obes. 2019 May 29:e12538. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12538. [Epub ahead of print]

Weight-based teasing is associated with gain in BMI and fat mass among children and adolescents at-risk for obesity: A longitudinal study.

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Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University (USU), Bethesda, Maryland.
Section on Growth and Obesity, Program in Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Bethesda, Maryland.



Youths with overweight and obesity report frequent instances of weight-based teasing. However, little is known about the prospective associations between weight-based teasing and changes in body composition among youth.


To assess associations between weight-based teasing and changes in body mass index (BMI) and fat mass in a longitudinal study of youths with, or at-risk for, overweight and obesity.


One hundred ten youths with, or at-risk for, overweight participated in a longitudinal observational study. The Perception of Teasing Scale was administered at baseline. Height, weight, and body composition were obtained at baseline and at follow-ups (range: 1-15 years).


Mean age at baseline was 11.8 years; 53% had overweight/obesity; 36% were non-Hispanic Black; 55% were female; mean follow-up from baseline: 8.5 years. Adjusting for covariates and repeated measures of BMI or fat mass, linear mixed models revealed that weight-based teasing was associated with greater gain of BMI and fat mass across the follow-up period (ps ≤ .007). Adjusting for covariates, youths reporting high weight-based teasing (two standard deviations above the mean) experienced a 33% greater gain in BMI (an additional 0.20 kg/m2 ) and a 91% greater gain in fat mass (an additional 0.65 kg) per year compared with peers who reported no weight-based teasing.


Among youths with, and at-risk for, overweight and obesity, weight-based teasing was associated with greater weight and fat gain.


BMI; adolescents; weight stigma; weight-based teasing


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