Race/Ethnicity, Obesity, and the Risk of Being Verbally Bullied: a National Multilevel Study

  • Danielle X. MoralesEmail author
  • Nathalie Prieto
  • Sara E. Grineski
  • Timothy W. Collins



To examine the effects of obese/overweight status and race/ethnicity on the risk for being verbally bullied among second grade children, and to investigate if the relationship between weight status and verbal bullying varies based on race/ethnicity.


Data on second graders from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (Children = 18,130; Schools = 2419) were analyzed. Hierarchical generalized logistic modeling was used to address the objectives.


Independent of the child’s sex, age, academic performance, family socioeconomic status, and school characteristics, obese/overweight children (relative to non-obese/overweight children) and Black children (relative to White children) were more likely to be verbally bullied. Hispanic and Asian children were less likely to be verbally bullied relative to White children. Hispanic obese/overweight children experienced less verbal bullying than White obese/overweight children.


This study documented disproportionate risks of being verbally bullied for obese/overweight US second graders. The risk of being verbally bullied was significantly greater for obese/overweight White children vs. obese/overweight Hispanic children.


Findings can inform the development of strategies to reduce verbal bullying of obese/overweight children in US elementary schools.


Childhood obesity Race/ethnicity Bullying Verbal bullying 



The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under linked Award Numbers RL5GM118969, TL4GM118971, and UL1GM118970.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Danielle X. Morales declares that she has no conflict of interest. Nathalie Prieto declares that she has no conflict of interest. Sara E. Grineski declares that she has no conflict of interest. Timothy W. Collins declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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