Racial/ethnic differences in weight-related teasing in adolescents

Patricia Van Den Berg, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Marla E. Eisenberg, Jess Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study examined general, peer, and family weight teasing across race/ethnicity and weight status (average weight, overweight, obese) in adolescents. For those participants who reported peer or family weight teasing, the extent to which this teasing bothered them was also reported. Methods and Procedures: Data were from the first wave of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), a longitudinal study of eating and weight-related variables in 4,746 adolescent boys and girls. Participants completed a survey and their height and weight were measured. Results: Prevalences of general weight teasing were similar across race/ethnicity. Asian-American boys, black boys, and Asian-American girls reported lower prevalences of peer teasing than whites. Hispanic, Asian-American, and mixed/other girls reported higher prevalences of family weight teasing than did white girls. In nearly all racial/ethnic groups for all three teasing variables, obese adolescents were significantly more likely to report having been teased, compared to average-weight adolescents. In some racial/ethnic groups overweight adolescents were also significantly more likely than average-weight adolescents to report having been teased. Among girls who were teased, fewer black and mixed/other girls were bothered by peer teasing, compared to white girls. Similarly, fewer girls from most racial/ethnic groups were bothered by family weight teasing, compared to white girls. Discussion: The results of the current study suggest that weight-based teasing is a problem for all youth, and especially so for overweight and obese youth, regardless of racial/ethnic group. Asian-American adolescents may experience somewhat less weight teasing from peers, and possibly more weight teasing from family members. One-quarter to one-half of those teased by family or peers were bothered by it, and more white girls were bothered than other groups. Efforts to eradicate weight stigmatization could provide benefits to a sizable number of adolescents across a variety of racial and ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S3-S10
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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