Teasing, depression and unhealthy weight control behaviour in obese children

J. Madowitz, S. Knatz, T. Maginot, S. J. Crow, K. N. Boutelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Data were taken from 80 obese children (mean age = 10.03 years; mean body mass index = 27.37; %white = 29.37%; %female = 58.8%). Self-report surveys were used to collect data on rates of depressive symptoms, unhealthy weight control behaviours (UWCBs), teasing, sources of teasing and how much the teasing bothered the child. Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate relationships between weight-related teasing and UWCBs and depression in obese children. Teasing by peers and/or family, negative feelings due to teasing, frequency of teasing, and number of teasing sources reported and associations with UWCBs and depression were analysed. Methods: Logistical and linear regressions were used to evaluate relationships between the teasing variables, depression and UWCBs, controlling for age and gender. Results: Results indicated that children teased by other children have significantly higher levels of depression (B = 6.1 [SE = 2.3]) and are five times more likely to engage in UWCBs (OR = 5.1 [CI = 1.5-17.4]). Children who endorsed that teasing by peers bothered them had significantly higher levels of depression (B = 2.3 [SE = 0.8]). The frequency of weight-related teasing was significantly associated with depression (B = 2.5 [SE = 0.8]), as was the number of teasing sources (B = 4.6 [SE = 1.5]). No significant relationships were found between familial teasing and depression or UWCBs. Conclusions: Weight-related teasing, especially by other children, was associated with negative psychosocial measures in these obese children. Interventions are needed to reduce teasing, and longitudinal studies are recommended to understand the impact of teasing over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-452
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Children
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Teasing


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