Poor weight status tied to social isolation in teens
Weight status influences an adolescent’s selection into different types of peer networks, a recent study has found. Underweight, overweight, and obese teens suffer from a higher risk of social isolation due to their weight.
Researchers enrolled 1,100 10th grade students who were asked to self-report their weight and height, from which the body mass index (BMI) was calculated. The primary outcome of interest was nomination (indegree) into adolescent five different types of social networks: friendship, romantic, admired, succeed, and popular.
Multiple Poisson regression analysis showed that underweight students were significantly less likely to receive friendship nominations than their normal BMI counterparts (odds ratio [OR], 0.76, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.0–0.98).
In addition, those who were overweight (OR, 0.57, 95 percent CI, 0.42–0.78) or obese (OR, 0.29, 95 percent CI, 0.19–0.42) were significantly less likely to be nominated as a romantic interest. Obese (OR, 0.80, 95 percent CI, 0.65–0.97) or underweight (OR, 0.61, 95 percent CI, 0.42–0.90) adolescents were also less likely to be admired.
Furthermore, obese (OR, 0.71, 95 percent CI, 0.57–0.86), overweight (OR, 0.67, 95 percent CI, 0.53–0.84), and underweight (OR, 0.40, 95 percent CI, 0.25–0.64) students were less likely to be nominated as popular, while underweight (OR, 0.62, 95 percent CI, 0.44–0.87) individuals were not seen as likely to succeed.
In the present study, indegree was assessed by showing each student a roster of all the other students, with an accompanying photo. They were then asked to nominate up to five students in each social network type. Indegree was set as the number of times a student was nominated by their peers across the five network types.