A study at Brigham Young University has found that teasing may lead to less activity for children. Not only do children who are teased become less active, they also report having a worse quality of life than their non-teased peers.
“Teasing not only influences psychological functioning but may reduce physical activity and lead to poorer physical, social, and emotional functioning for children,” Chad D. Jensen told Reuters Health in an email. He led the study at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
The link between teasing and less physical activity is particularly concerning considering most children are already not exercising as much as they should.
Previous research shows less than one in 10 children meets the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation to participate in at least one hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity every day.
About The Research
Jensen and his colleagues surveyed 108 kids, aged nine to 12, in 2010 and again in 2011. They asked kids about their participation in 21 different types of physical activity before, during and after school and how often they had been teased while playing sports or exercising since kindergarten.
The researchers also asked the kids how well they functioned physically, emotionally, with friends and at school. Together those measures were used to determine children’s health-related quality of life.
Children who were teased reported a worse quality of life than those who were not.
In particular, overweight and obese kids who reported being teased on the first survey had a poorer quality of life both initially and again one year later, the researchers write in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
Bullying Prevention is a Health Concern
“Negative effects of teasing appear to be persistent, affecting important outcomes one year after teasing is reported,” Jensen said.
Normal-weight kids who reported being teased on the first survey were more likely to become less active over the next year. For overweight and obese children, teasing reported in year two was linked to less physical activity the same year.
“School policy makers are encouraged to think of this form of peer victimization as a direct threat to children’s health outcomes,” write Jensen and his co-authors.
“These findings provide support for comprehensive bullying prevention programs and suggest that efforts to reduce peer victimization in the context of physical activity participation may be helpful in promoting physical activity participation and children’s quality of life,” Jensen said.