HealthDay News — Obese children in early primary school are significantly more likely to be involved with bullying, both as victim and perpetrator, according to researchers.

“Overweight may predispose children to peer victimization, but whether adiposity also increases the risk of bullying perpetration is unclear,” wrote Pauline W. Jansen, PhD, of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

To evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and teacher-reported bullying, the investigators followed 4,364 children (mean age, 6.2 years) in early primary school.

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Higher BMI was associated with more victimization and more bullying perpetration in both teacher- and child-reported bullying, found the inspectors. There was a 0.05 increase on the standardized teacher-reported victimization score in association with a 1-point increase in BMI (P<0.001). 

Obese, but not overweight children, had significantly higher risk of being a bully-victim (odds ratio, 2.25), compared with normal-weight peers.

“At school entry, a high BMI is a risk factor associated with victimization and bullying perpetration, with obese children particularly likely to be victims and aggressors,” concluded the authors. “Possibly, obesity triggers peer problems, but the association may also reflect a common underlying cause that makes obese children vulnerable to bullying involvement.”


  1. Jansen P et al. Pediatrics. 2014; doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3274