Today has been a busy news day on the subject of obesity. Not only was the National Activity Plan announced in Washington, D.C, as part of a new grassroots effort to combat America's alarming rates of adult and childhood obesity and decreasing levels of physical activity, but a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan and reported in the June 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics proves what many have suspected: that obese children are more likely to be victims of bullying than their non-overweight peers.
Obese children: continued sports, end to bullying needed
It was a difficult situation. We all knew that the best thing for Nat was for him to be active in sports. Whenever Nat came to play with my sons he would spend lots of time running around and I could see that he had the potential to be as gifted as Paul and that he enjoyed himself. Yet, he told me that he did not like being part of a team. The story my sons were telling was a bit more detailed. "Nat, doesn't like to play team sports because he gets teased and bullied: kids have nicknames for him that hurt his feelings."
In middle school, Nat was given a chance to wrestle. The coach had encouraged Nat to give it a try,, telling himt that, if he toned up, he could use his weight to his advantage. Still, kids taunted and bullied Nat.
The new Pediatrics study confirms what I always knew: boys, especially boys who are obese, are bullied more often than average weight children.
The message: obese children need sports, not bullying. It is up to every adult involved in youth sports to stop bullying in sports.