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Overweight Kids and Discrimination

Weight Bias in School

According to the National Education Association, the school experience for fat students is "one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant harassment.... From nursery school through college, fat students experience ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence."

Unfortunately, teachers are just as likely to discriminate against overweight students as anyone else. A number of studies confirm teacher bias, with these findings:

  • Teachers have lower expectations for overweight students (compared to thinner students) across a range of ability areas.
  • Teachers say overweight students are untidy, more emotional, less likely to succeed at work, and more likely to have family problems.
  • In one study, 43 percent of teachers agreed that "most people feel uncomfortable when they associate with obese people."
Negative attitudes from teachers, combined with teasing and social exclusion by peers, make overweight youth more vulnerable to depression and more likely to miss days of school than their non-obese peers. And shockingly, obese students are significantly less likely to be accepted for admission to college, despite comparable academic performance.



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