Allergies, extra weight tied to bullying
- PDP, BJP seal alliance to form government in Jammu & Kashmir
- RK Pachauri, accused of sexual harassment, quits UN climate change panel
- Centre's land bill is anti-farmer, says Kejriwal at Anna protest rally
- SpiceJet launches low-fare offer for Holi; one lakh seats on the block
- BJP defends Bhagwat, claims Mother Teresa admitted she was not a social worker
Kids who have food allergies or are overweight may be especially likely to get bullied by their peers, two new studies suggest.
Not surprisingly, researchers also found targets of bullying were more distressed and anxious and had a worse quality of life, in general, than those who weren't picked on.
Bullying has become a concern among parents, doctors and school administrators since research and news stories emerged linking bullying - including online "cyberbullying" - with depression and even suicide.
"There has been a shift and people are more and more recognizing that bullying has real consequences, it's not just something to be making jokes about," said Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, who wrote a commentary published with the new research.
Studies suggest between one in ten and one in three of all kids and teens are bullied - but those figures may vary by location and demographics, researchers noted.
The new findings come from two studies published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
In one, Dr. Eyal Shemesh from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and his colleagues surveyed 251 kids who were seen at an allergy clinic and their parents. The children were all between age eight and 17 with a diagnosed food allergy.
Just over 45 percent of them said they'd been bullied or harassed for any reason, and 32 percent reported being bullied because of their allergy in particular.
"Our finding is entirely consistently with what you find with children with a disability," Shemesh told Reuters Health.
A food allergy, he said, "is a vulnerability that can be very easily exploited, so of course it will be exploited."
The kids in the study were mostly white and well-off, the researcher said - a group that you'd expect would be targeted less often. So bullying may be more common in poorer and minority children who also have food allergies.