A University of Minnesota study published on Monday found a strong link between the teasing endured by overweight teenagers and rates of depression.

 

It also found a strong connection between obesity, low self-esteem and eating disorders.

   

"Of particular concern are the alarming rates of suicidal ideation and attempts associated with weight-based teasing, which are two to three times as high among those who were teased compared with those not teased," study author Marla Eisenberg wrote.

 

Suicide

   

The report into nearly 5,000 teenagers in the Minneapolis area found 26 percent of teens who were teased at school and at home said they considered suicide.

 

Nine percent of those interviewed had attempted to kill themselves, and 36 percent of the teased girls reported being depressed.

   

Eisenberg said toning down teasing would require educating peers and family members about the impact of their derogatory comments on sensitive adolescents.

 

 

"Overweight adolescents were more likely to be socially isolated... than were normal-weight adolescents"  

 

University of Minnesota Study

 

Another problem for overweight teenagers is they have fewer friends than their normal-weight peers, a second study in the journal said.

 

Obesity epidemic   

 

"Overweight adolescents were more likely to be socially isolated and to be peripheral to social networks than were normal-weight adolescents," wrote Richard Strauss of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  

   

Fewer friends translates into reduced "social capital", which can shape a person's "economic status, educational attainment, job seeking, mental health and general well-being."

 

The prevalence of obesity among children has reached epidemic proportions in many developed nations, with an estimated 15 percent of American adolescents considered obese.

 

Diets containing too many fatty snack foods and a lack of exercise are usually blamed by researchers, though genetic factors can also play a role.