In a nation suffering from a childhood obesity epidemic, this is bad news for the youth of the future: whether or not they intend to be, parents are meaner to their overweight children. TIME writes:
It’s no secret that overweight kids are typically not the most popular kids on the block. Nor is it news that kids can be mean, forming groups of “haves” and “have-nots,” gossiping, ostracizing their chunky classmates.
You’d think that home would be a safe haven for them, but a new study in the journal Obesity reveals that even parents can come down hard on their heftier offspring.
Researchers at the University of North Texas in Denton have found that parents may be less likely to chip in and help their overweight kid buy a car. “No one is going to be surprised that society discriminates against the overweight, but I think it is surprising that it can come from your parents,” researcher Adriel Boals told Reuters.
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifying 20% of children and 18% of teens as obese, that’s a lot of kids who could potentially get short-changed. In the current study, the researchers looked at 379 college students and discovered that those who paid for their cars themselves had a higher average body mass index in relation to students whose parents helped with the purchase. When they trained their sights on the 82 students who paid for their cars without assistance, they found that 39% qualified as overweight or obese versus 18% in the group that got a financial leg up. Neither gender nor family income played into why parents were more willing to help out their svelter offspring.
Regardless, parents might want to think twice before they’re mean to their chubby children. What comes around often goes around, and the latest stats show one-third of Americans are overweight and another third are obese.