Kids tough on obese peers

Children are more apt to dislike obese peers and others with an "undesirable trait" if they believe it's the child's own fault, according to new research.

The study included 137 third- through eighth-grade students who were asked to respond to statements about six hypothetical boys who were either a poor student or poor athlete, extremely overweight, extremely aggressive, extremely shy, or had symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The Kansas State University researchers presented the hypothetical boys as real and said the boys had been asked if they were trying to do anything to fix their undesirable trait and whether their attempts had been successful.

The students then rated their attitudes towards the boys. The results showed that the more the students believed the boy was at fault for his undesirable trait, the more they would tease and make fun of him, and the less they would help him if he needed it.

Own problem

Boys who were overweight and aggressive were disliked the most because the students believed they were to blame for their own problem and lacked the desire and motivation to change it, the findings showed.

The researchers also found that girls tended to feel more kindly than boys toward peers with undesirable traits, unless those traits were obesity and aggressiveness.

There was some good news.

"If the students think that the child has tried to change, that tends to positively influence how they anticipate interacting with that peer," study author Mark Barnett, a psychology professor, said in a university news release. "They really liked kids who are successful in overcoming their problem, but they also really liked kids who tried and put effort into changing."

(HealthDay News, October 2011) 

Read more:

Fat, fatter, South African?

Fat South Africans in denial

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
32% - 9433 votes
No
68% - 19971 votes
Vote