Washington: The researchers at National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that youths who were teased about their weight, increased their body mass by 33 per cent more each year compared to the youths who were not ridiculed about their weight.
The study published in the journal 'Pediatric Obesity' appears to contradict the belief that such teasing might motivate youth to change their behaviour and attempt to lose weight.
The authors theorise that weight-associated stigma may have made youths more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours, such as binge eating and avoiding exercise.
Another possible explanation is that the stress of being teased could stimulate the release of the hormone cortisol, which may lead to weight gain.
The study involved 110 youth who were an average of 11.8 years of age when they enrolled. The participants were either overweight (defined as a body mass index above the 85th percentile) when they began the study or had two parents who were overweight or obese.
At enrolment, they completed a six-item questionnaire on whether they had been teased about their weight. They then participated in annual follow-up visits for the next 15 years.
The researchers found that youth experiencing high levels of teasing gained an average of 0.20 kg (.44 lbs) per year more than those who did not.
The study was conducted by Natasha A. Schvey, Ph.D., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.