Teasing, Disordered Eating Behaviors, and Psychological Morbidities Among Overweight Adolescents

Authors

  • Heather P. Libbey,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Emily Program, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • Mary T. Story,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • Dianne R. Neumark-Sztainer,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • Kerri N. Boutelle

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    3. Department of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
    4. Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, California, USA
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(Libb0016@umn.edu)

Abstract

Objective: To assess whether weight-related teasing is associated with weight control behaviors, disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, and psychological comorbidities in overweight adolescents.

Methods and Procedures: A sample of 46 male and 84 female adolescents completed a survey assessing teasing frequency, sources of teasing (peers and family), weight control behaviors, disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, depression, anxiety, anger, and self-esteem.

Results: Frequent teasing by both family and peers was associated with greater disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, depression, anxiety, anger, and decreased self-esteem. The more that adolescents were bothered by peer and family teasing, the more often they reported a greater value on thinness, higher levels of anxiety, lower self-esteem, and their self-assessment was influenced by their weight and shape. Higher levels of teasing frequency and being bothered by teasing were related to greater odds of adolescents endorsing severe levels of binge eating behaviors and depressive symptomolgy.

Discussion: Overweight adolescents teased about their weight are at risk for disordered eating thoughts and behaviors and psychological morbidities. Health-care providers should involve parents and youth in discussing teasing concerns. Furthermore, parents, schools, and communities should consider enacting policies to decrease or prohibit teasing. Future research is needed to further explore relationships between teasing and psychological functioning.

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