A recent study from Brigham Young University shows that children bullied during sports become less active overall. If bullying occurs in sports or PE class, children become less interested in physical activities, and they withdraw, becoming inactive. A year later, kids who are picked on are less active.
That’s true of both overweight and healthy-weight kids, the study found. The research is published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
The research touches on two different factors in child well-being that concern experts. First, physical activity — or its lack — and the resulting weight gain have serious ramifications for both present and future health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others. Research suggests that only 8 percent of school-age children get the recommended one hour of physical activity a day that federal guidelines say they need. Obesity is considered by health officials to be a national epidemic that includes children.
At the same time, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on Educational Statistics noted that at least 13.5 million episodes of bullying were reported in 2011, ranging from insults to threats and physical harm. It’s not a count of how many students were actually bullied, since some students were likely bullied in more than one way and other students probably never reported incidents, but it is suggestive.
Intrigued by earlier research that suggested kids who are bullied by peers may become more sedentary, the researchers in the BYU-led study decided to look at what happens when the bullying itself involves physical activity. “Kids may be teased about their physical skills, ostracized when teams are chosen for sports, or criticized for their physical appearance when they wear exercise clothing,” said lead researcher Chad D. Jensen, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University.
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