The Cutting Edge: Fighting the Fat
Dr. Richard Boles is a pediatric psychologist at Children's Hospital Colorado.
"Being teased and bullied about weight has been around for a long time," Dr. Boles said. "What's surprising is, you would think perhaps with the increase of obesity for kids and for teens that maybe it would go down because more of them look like the kids they are teasing. In fact, that's not the case."
Recent statistics confirm that message. A national study of overweight sixth graders found that 24 percent of the boys and 30 percent of the girls reported being bullied because of their weight.
Dr. Boles says the bullying has a lasting effect. Many kids avoid going to school, claiming to have a headache or a stomach ache. They lose interest in learning and often change schools frequently. Unfortunately, the teasing usually follows and the issues remain unsolved, leading to poor grades, low self esteem and even depression.
Parents and family members can confront the problem by talking to their children. Dr. Boles suggests asking questions about friends at school and whether anyone is bothering the child.
Another important point, don't tell your child losing weight will stop the bullying.
"That can sometimes be real tempting to do, if you just lose some weight as a motivator, this will be a problem that goes away," Dr. Boles. "That's not really what we recommend because what we want the child to do is focus on their health, and not about a certain number on the scale."
The Good Life Clinic at Children's Hospital Colorado offers an outpatient program for young children through the adolescent years.
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