Negative Peer Perceptions of Obese Children in the Classroom Environment

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Obesity (Impact Factor: 3.73). 04/2008; 16(4):755-62. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2008.4
Source: PubMed


It is asserted that the more immediate and observable consequences of pediatric obesity are psychosocial in nature. This study examines the peer relations of clinically referred obese youth compared to demographically comparable nonoverweight peers within the classroom environment.
Peer-, teacher-, and self-reports of behavioral reputation (Revised Class Play (RCP)), and peer reports of social acceptance, nonsocial attributes (attractiveness, athleticism, academic competence), and health interference (school absence, illness, fatigue) were obtained regarding 90 obese youth (BMI > 95th percentile; 8-16 years, 57% girls, 50% African American) and 76 nonoverweight demographically similar comparison classmates.
Relative to comparison peers, obese children were nominated significantly less often as a best friend and rated lower in peer acceptance, although the two groups did not differ in the number of reciprocated friendships. Obese youth were described by peer, teacher, and self-report as more socially withdrawn and by peers as displaying less leadership and greater aggressive-disruptive behavior. Peers also described obese youth as less physically attractive, less athletic, more sick, tired, and absent from school. Being seen as less attractive and less athletic by peers helped to explain differences in obese and nonoverweight youth's levels of peer acceptance.
Clinically referred obese youth are characterized by peer relations that differ from those of nonoverweight youth. The peer environment provides a rich context to understand the social consequences of pediatric obesity as well as factors that could be targeted in intervention to promote more positive health and psychosocial outcomes.

Download full-text


Available from: Meg H Zeller, Mar 03, 2014
  • Source
    • "Although BMI may be a protective factor for decreased likelihood of sexual experience and current sexual activity, such “protection” may reflect social stigma related to perceived weight and attractiveness. Overweight and obesity are associated with a greater likelihood of peer rejection and marginalization [45, 46], increased likelihood of victimization [47], less likelihood of dating and of engaging in intimate relationships [32–34, 39, 47], and increased social stigma [33] relative to normal weight peers. These factors may also contribute to the occurrence of sexual risk behaviors among sexually active youth. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine if body mass index (BMI) is associated with behaviors that may increase risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among US high school students. We analyzed nationally representative data from the 2005-2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) to examine associations of BMI categories with sexual risk behaviors and injection drug use among sexually active high school students, using sex-stratified logistic regression models. Controlling for race/ethnicity and grade, among female and male students, both underweight (BMI < 5th percentile) and obesity (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) were associated with decreased odds of being currently sexually active (i.e., having had sexual intercourse during the past 3 months). However, among sexually active female students, obese females were more likely than normal weight females to have had 4 or more sex partners (odds ratio, OR = 1.59), not used a condom at last sexual intercourse (OR = 1.30), and injected illegal drugs (OR = 1.98). Among sexually active male students, overweight (85th percentile ≤ BMI < 95th percentile) was associated with not using a condom at last sexual intercourse (OR = 1.19) and obesity was associated with injection drug use (OR = 1.42). Among sexually active students, overweight and obesity may be indicators of increased risk for HIV and other STDs.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of obesity
  • Source
    • "Based on our previous experience and on recent literature, it was theorised that to provide better care it would be necessary: a) more extensive and frequent contact with the treatment team and b) the inclusion of peers to assist in the weight control tasks. The literature shows that an adolescent’s health behaviour is associated with that of their peers [23], through social contagion [33,34] mechanisms. The reasoning behind the design of this project is the belief that providing regular PA, interactive sessions (IS) [35] and specific moments of concentrated intervention – holiday camps [36], would offer the right context for both reaching a more extensive contact with the treatment team and allow for the inclusion of peers in the treatment. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Adolescent obesity epidemic is one of the major health priorities as it tracks into adult life. There is widespread need for new creative strategies and lifestyle programs. This study was designed to investigate the possible impact of including peers on the weight management program and assess the long-run adherence to behaviour change, with a potential positive impact on body mass index, body composition, and physical activity. Peer influence is major at this age and it is expected that adolescents will be better motivated and engaged in the behaviour changes when they are accompanied by their friends.Methods/design: The study is a non-randomised, non-blinded controlled trial, including two groups: 1) Comparison group (n = 35), which will receive a 12 month standard treatment at the hospital setting plus a weekly interactive and physical activity session; 2) Experimental group (n = 99), which will receive the standardized treatment at the hospital plus a weekly session together with a peer of their choice. The sample size calculations for the primary outcomes showed that we will have power to detect effect sizes of 0.25. Measures include: a) Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition assessment); b) Anthropometric evaluations; c) Assessment of physical activity levels by accelerometers; d) Psychosocial mediators (motivation and peer support) assessed with a package of psychometric questionnaires; and e) Outcomes (quality of life and well-being). Adolescence is a crucial period for the development of a healthy lifestyle, especially among those who reach this age with an obesity condition. Obesity management programs directed to adolescents are often an adopted version of programs developed for children, most of them with a strong focus on the family, or an adopted version of adult programs, not recognizing the specificities of this age group. This study is designed taking into account the unique characteristics of this life-cycle stage, with the main objective of testing an innovative treatment for adolescent obesity.Trial registration: This trial is registered in the with the number NCT02024061.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · BMC Pediatrics
  • Source
    • "In addition, it appears that obese children and adolescents have difficulties with peer relationships. As many as one-third of obese children have no reciprocated friendships (Zeller et al, 2008). Peers rank obese children among the least desirable playmates (Zametkin et al, 2004). "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2012
Show more