Bullying experiences, body esteem, body dissatisfaction, and the moderating role of weight status among adolescents

Lauren A. Fowler, Chelsea L. Kracht, Kara D. Denstel, Tiffany M. Stewart, Amanda E. Staiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: The present study examined the relationships between bullying victimization experiences, body esteem (BE), and body dissatisfaction (BD) by obesity status. Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, adolescents (10-16y) from the U.S. completed surveys. Weight and height were objectively assessed. Bullying was assessed using the Personal Experiences Checklist, with a total score that included three subscales (cyber, verbal-relational, and physical). BE was assessed using total score on the BE Scale, and BD was assessed using the Body Image Assessment for Pre-Adolescents, operationalized as the discrepancy between current and ideal body figure. Linear regression models, controlling for sociodemographics, were used to examine obesity status (with vs. without obesity) and sex as moderators of the relationships between bullying, BE, and BD. Results: On average, adolescents (n = 328) were 12.6 ± 1.9 y, 45.4% male, 58.2% White, 35.7% Black, and 36.0% had obesity. Obesity status moderated the relationship between bullying experiences and BE, such that these relationships were only significant (B = −0.38, p<.05) among adolescents with obesity compared to adolescents without obesity. In both groups, greater verbal-relational bullying experiences were associated with lower BE, while greater physical bullying experiences were related to higher BE only among adolescents with obesity. In adolescent girls without obesity, greater cyberbullying experiences were associated with lower BD. Conclusions: The findings suggest different associations between sub-types of bullying victimization experiences and BE and BD, highlighting the importance of examining these associations separately by obesity status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Body image
  • Children
  • Mental health
  • Obesity
  • Victimization


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