Fatty, fatty, two-by-four: Weight-teasing history and disturbed eating in young adult women

Virginia M. Quick, Rita McWilliams, Carol Byrd-Bredbenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective. We investigated the long-term effect of weight teasing during childhood. Methods. Young adult women (n = 1533; aged 18-26 years) from 3 large universities participated in a survey (Fall 2009 to Spring 2010) that assessed disturbed eating behaviors; weight status at ages 6, 12, and 16 years; and weight-teasing history. Results. Nearly half of the participants were weight-teased as a child. Participants who experienced childhood weight teasing were significantly more likely to have disturbed eating behaviors now than non-weight-teased peers. As the variety of weight teasing insults recalled increased, so did disturbed eating behaviors and current body mass index. Those who recalled their weight at ages 6, 12, or 16 years as being heavier than average endured weight teasing significantly more frequently and felt greater distress than their lighter counterparts. Conclusions. Weight teasing may contribute to the development of disturbed eating and eating disorders in young women. Health care professionals, parents, teachers, and other childcare givers must help shift social norms to make weight teasing as unacceptable as other types of bullying. To protect the health of children, efforts to make weight teasing unacceptable are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-515
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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