Children can have prejudice towards their overweight peers
Young children can have unconscious prejudice towards their overweight peers, which leads these chubby kids to gain even more weight, a study claims.
Duke University researchers found that children as young as nine years old can have a bias against fatter children, using their weight to determine if they are 'bad' or 'good'.
The new study found there was an overall five percent negative bias towards overweight children.
Previous research shows that children who are stigmatized because of their weight, tend to gain even more, which can lead to health complications as adults.
Children as young as nine years old are likely to be bias towards fat children, which can make these stigmatized children put on even more weight
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and included 114 children to make these findings.
Experts noted that children who were shown pictures of chubbier kids were more likely to determine them as 'bad'. Researchers said these children may not even realize their bias.
Dr Asheley Skinner, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, said: 'When children are stigmatized for being overweight, it can cause further weight gain and other health consequences.
'Given that, we felt that it was important to determine if we could identify unconscious attitudes towards weight in this 9-to-11 age group.'
Being obese in childhood raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes much later in life, a major study has found.
Children who were obese at the age of 10 were shown to have damaged arteries 25 years later - even if they lost weight in the intervening years.
The findings, by scientists at the University of Surrey, found obese children were more likely to develop pre-diabetes, thickened arteries and high blood pressure as adults - all problems which raise the risk of heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular problems later in life.
The study suggests that being obese - even fleetingly - can have a lasting impact on the human body.
Previous research shows that overweight children have fewer friends and are more disliked than their thinner schoolmates, a study found.
Fatter children are also more likely to have unreciprocated friendships – thinking other children are their friends when the feeling is not mutual.
'Fat-shaming' – insulting or bullying children because of their weight is causing obese children to be treated a social outcasts, researchers claimed.
This can create a vicious circle which can lead to further overeating, the researchers warned, and anti-bullying strategies need to take into account anti-fat prejudice in schools.
The researchers from University of South California said that as well as the negative impact on physical health, being overweight or obese is damaging to children's mental health, increasing their chances of depression in later life.
Worldwide, childhood obesity increased by 31 percent in a little over two decades with about 42 million overweight or obese children in 2013, according to the World Health Organization.
In the United States, the number of obese children has more than tripled since the 1970s.
Around one in five school-aged children are obese - about 17 percent of all children in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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