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Body Weight and Bullying Victimization among US Adolescents

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Objective: We examined the association between body weight status at all levels (including underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity) and bullying victimization among US ado- lescents using a nationally representative data. Methods : We used logistic regression to exam- ine the association between bullying victimization and body weight status by sex with the data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (N = 11,825), controlling for demographics, selected behavioral confounders, and complex survey design. Results: We found a statistically significant U-shaped association between body weight and bullying victimization among male (p = .001) but not female students (p = .838). For girls, the prevalence of being bullied slightly increased from underweight (33.58%) to normal weight (34.36%) to obesity (36.18%) but such increases failed to reach statistical significance. For boys, being bullied was significantly associ- ated with younger age, being white, feeling hopeless, having suicidal ideation, and excessive video-game playing. Conclusions : A U-shaped association between body weight and bullying victimization appears to exist in boys but not girls, partly because of the body weight stigma and sex stereotypes among US adolescents. Future studies should investigate the risk factors associated with sex-specific bullying to develop effective anti-bullying programs for youth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health and Human Development, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA 2: Department of Health Care Systems, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA 3: Department of Health & Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA 4: Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University School of Public Health, Bloomington, IN, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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