An Australian study of 3,300 children, who were obese when aged 4 and 5 (13% of boys and 16% of girls), found that these children were 20% more likely to face relationship issues (with peers) by the time they were 8 or 9.
Parents and teachers reported that the group were constantly teased, rejected, on the receiving end of jokes and excluded from social activities e.g. birthday parties. Such treatments negatively impacted the overweight children's self esteem and often results in them becoming withdrawn.
The difficulties associated with the peer relationships of obese children were evident, even after the data was adjusted to incorporate factors that are known to affect social interaction, such as, a mother’s mental health and education, family income and ethnicity (language spoken at home).
The current study reaffirms previous studies, involving older children and adolescents, which showed that overweight and obese individuals face greater stigmatisation, isolation and disconnection from social networks than normal weight peers.