Obese girls are only half as likely as their normal-weight classmates to go on to college, according to University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe. The effect is worse if there are few overweight girls at the school and goes away if 20 percent of classmates are overweight. Obesity doesn’t affect boys’ likelihood of going to college.
Recent research has shown that overweight youngsters are often teased, ostracized and isolated by their peers, and are sometimes treated differently by teachers and even parents. According to Crosnoe, children often internalize this negative social feedback â€” whether real or perceived â€” which can lead to alcohol and drug use, failure in school, truancy and suicidal thoughts. “They are just unhappy at school,” he says, “and it does things to them in the present that have long-term consequences.”
I wonder which comes first: The extra pounds or the unhappiness?
In the adult world, obesity is not contagious, writes William Saletan in Slate, responding to a new study that people tend to gain weight when their friends get fatter and lose if their friends slim down. Forget the politically correct spin, he writes:
Obesity spreads culturally, individual decisions are crucial, and responsibility and stigma are part of the solution.
Having fat friends apparently changes individual’s “perception of the social norms regarding the acceptability of obesity.” Also they invite you out for beer and pizza.