Adolescent obesity, overt and relational peer victimization, and romantic relationships

Obes Res. 2002 May;10(5):386-93. doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.53.


Objective: To examine associations between obesity and peer relations in adolescents, specifically testing the hypotheses that obese adolescents are more frequent victims of peer aggression and are less likely to develop romantic relationships.

Research methods and procedures: Measures of overt and relational victimization, as well as dating status and satisfaction, were collected for a group of 416 ninth- through twelfth-grade students (51.7% girls). Body mass index was computed for each teen based on self-reported height and weight data.

Results: Results revealed that obese boys reported more overt victimization and obese girls reported more relational victimization compared with their average-weight peers. Obese girls were also less likely to date than their peers. However, both obese boys and girls reported being more dissatisfied with their dating status compared with average-weight peers.

Discussion: The results suggest that obese adolescents are at greater risk for mistreatment by peers and may have fewer opportunities to develop intimate romantic relationships; this may contribute to the psychological and health difficulties frequently associated with obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Peer Group*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Social Behavior