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Breaking: Grass green, water wet

May 3, 2010

The latest in a long tradition of highly unnecessary scientific studies has confirmed what anyone who’s ever spent more than five minutes on a playground already knew: fat kids get picked on more. I know, hard to believe. From the confusingly named U.S. News and World Report (no, seriously–has that name ever made and sense to anyone? How does the “news” of the U.S. differ from the “report” they’re making on the rest of the world?):

Obese kids are 63 percent more likely to be bullied than their average-weight classmates, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

No word on how much money they spent on figuring that out, but let’s just assume I could have bought my kids lots of new pants with the money.
The study goes on to note some interesting things about bullying. U.S. News reporter Megan Johnson and I have different opinions, I think, about what makes them interesting:
Researchers looked at 821 kids in third, fifth, and sixth grades living across the U.S. and found that parents and teachers were more likely to report bullying than the children being bullied, HealthDay reports. While 25 percent of study kids reported being bullied, teachers said 34 percent had been. Mothers put the number even higher at 45 percent.

Hm. So kids report less bullying than adults, with mothers reporting the most bullying of their children. And the conclusion is automatically that kids are slow to report what’s happening to them? I’m sure there is some underreporting, but isn’t it also possible that kids and adults have different definitions of what constitutes bullying? And that parents are a little hypersensitive to bullying? My oldest son is only 6, but I can already tell you that he does things to classmates that they think is intentionally cruel, but that are totally innocent. Likewise, there are plenty of times when he’s working overtime to be a jerk, but everyone just sort of misses it. I don’t know why I’m arguing for the uselessness of this report. If I ever convinced anyone of that, they’d surely just launch another, even more useless study.

In closing, we all hear constantly that childhood obesity is an epidemic, and Kids Health reports that 1 in 3 kids are obese. Can’t the fatties just get together and take down the bullies?

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