Thu. May 23rd, 2024

A study found that teasing children about their weight can lead to long-term body image problems

It affects individuals of all weights, not simply those who are underweight or obese.

Regardless of their weight, teenagers who experience parental bullying about their appearance are more likely to experience difficulties with body image as adults, according to a recent University of Bristol study.

The study, which was published in Lancet Regional Health Europe, demonstrates how family pressure to slim down throughout adolescence can have a long-lasting effect on the kids.

According to research from the University of Bristol, thirteen-year-olds who experienced weight-based bullying and pressure from family members to lose weight had greater levels of internalised weight stigma when they aged thirty-one.

In depth

Internalised weight stigma is another term for when people apply unfavourable weight-related stereotypes to themselves after coming to believe them. Regardless of their true stature, this might make individuals feel unattractive, inept, or even useless. It affects individuals of all weights, not simply those who are underweight or obese.

According to the study, eating disorders and an excessive fixation with thinness can be significantly influenced by internalised stigma. Pressure from bullies, families, parents, and even the media feeds these negative emotions, which have “strong and long-lasting effects on adult psychological health.

The 13-year-olds were asked how often their parents made comments about their weight and how much they ate that made them feel bad, how much family, friends, and classmates teased them about their weight or body shape, and how much pressure there was on them to lose weight.

Eighteen years later, the researchers contacted the 4,060 initial participants. They were questioned about their weight in order to find out how they felt about it now that they were adults. With comments like “I hate myself because of my weight” and “I am less attractive than most other people because of my weight,” these questions probed their self-esteem and body image.

The study included almost 4,000 youngsters from Bristol and the surrounding areas who were first investigated in the 1990s and are now 33 years old.

The data demonstrated a definite correlation: adults who internalised weight stigma were more likely to have encountered negative weight comments from parents, family pressure to lose weight, or constant exposure to comparable messages in the media during their adolescent years. The long-term effects of these events were emphasised by the researchers.

Take away

Dr. Amanda Hughes, a fellow in the department of population health science at Bristol Medical School and co-author of the paper, stated that the kids who get these comments from family members almost 20 years later have a more negative evaluation of themselves. People’s psychological well-being and self-esteem are predicted to differ in this way. She advised parents to “be really careful” while discussing weight with their kids.

It is about why you are making that case, not that you shouldn’t be advocating for healthy eating or asserting that exercise is beneficial.

The goal is to promote eating well for its own sake or because it makes you feel good. Avoid the notion that you have to be thin to be good.

By Parvathy Sukumaran

Parvathy Sukumaran is a Content Creator and Editor at JustCare Health. She is an Educator and a Language Lecturer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and an M.A in English Literature. She is passionate about writing, archaeology, music and cooking.

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