Weight-based teasing in youth: Associations with metabolic and inflammatory markers

Pediatr Obes. 2021 Mar;16(3):e12729. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12729. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Background: Research among adults suggests that weight stigma is associated with worsened cardiometabolic health. However, these relationships have not been examined among youth.

Objective: Assess associations between weight-based teasing (WBT) and metabolic and inflammatory markers among two samples of youth: (1) a non-treatment-seeking sample and (2) a weight loss treatment-seeking sample with obesity.

Method: Weight, height, adiposity, waist circumference and blood pressure were measured. Fasting blood samples were collected for metabolic (triglycerides, glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and inflammatory analytes (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in Study 1 and erythrocyte sedimentation rate in both studies). Youths completed the Perception of Teasing Scale, a measure of WBT. Metabolic and inflammatory indices were compared between those with and without teasing, adjusting for demographics and body composition.

Results: Study 1 enrolled 201 non-treatment-seeking youth (Mage = 13.1y; 54.2% female; 44.8% non-Hispanic White; 32.8% with overweight/obesity); 15.4% reported WBT. Study 2 enrolled 111 treatment-seeking adolescents with obesity (Mage = 14.0y; 66.7% female; 37.8% non-Hispanic White); 73.0% reported WBT. Adjusting for covariates, WBT was not associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in either study.

Conclusions: WBT was not associated with worsened cardiometabolic health. Longitudinal research is needed to elucidate associations between WBT and health in youth.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02390765 NCT00001723.

Keywords: adolescents; children; inflammation; metabolic syndrome; weight-based teasing.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cardiometabolic Risk Factors
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Weight Prejudice / statistics & numerical data*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02390765
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00001723