25/05/2016 9:32 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Obese Children Prone To Depression As They Are ‘Least Preferred Playmates': Study

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Overweight boy in kindergarten. Louisville, Kentucky.

Obese children are likely to be introverts, are prone to depression and their mental health can worsen further as they are often made fun of and teased by their classmates, according to a study.

Being teased for obesity can have a negative impact on the young minds as there are chances of the kid resorting to overeating to cope with rejection and insult. Such children may also stay away from games involving physical activity to avoid being made fun of as they are often the least preferred playmates. In either case, the behaviour results in weight gain.

"Severe obesity is a clear psychosocial risk for children, even as early as six years old," the IANS reported, quoting lead author of the study Amanda W. Harrist from Oklahoma State University in the US.

The study, conducted on 1,164 students from 29 rural schools in Oklahoma and analysed the emotional and social lives of these children, revealed that severely obese children were targeted more than overweight kids.

"Children who are ostracised, as occurred with the severely overweight children in our study, suffer great harm with feelings of loneliness, depression and aggression and these children are more likely to skip school and drop out later," Harrist added in a paper published in the journal Child Development.

Co-author Glade L. Topham said intervention and prevention efforts should begin early enough in such cases with focus on peer relationships.

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