Body shaming among school-going adolescents: prevalence and predictors

Rahul Taye Gam, Shivendra Kumar Singh, Manish Manar, Sujita Kumar Kar, Abhishek Gupta


Background: The transition from childhood to adulthood is marked by dramatic physical, mental, sexual, psychological and social developmental changes. These tumultuous years can have long term consequences for the individual, especially when it comes to mental health. Body shaming, weight shaming or appearance-based harassment can be described as the act of mocking or humiliating someone based on their physical appearance. It often leads to low self-esteem, low body dissatisfaction, and depressive symptoms, which is consistent with the growing body of work emphasizing the harmful role of appearance-based harassment among youth. The objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence of body shaming among school-going adolescents and to assess the distribution and relationship of body shaming with various factors.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 4 schools of Lucknow with 200 participants from each school. They filled anonymous self-administered questionnaires and as a part of the study their height and weight measurements were also taken. Multi-stage random sampling was done to select the sample population from classes 9th to 12th.

Results: A total of 44.9 percent (n=359) participants responded to have been body shamed at least once in the past one year. It is maximum among boys in co-ed schools and least among girls in single-gender schools.

Conclusions: The prevalence observed in the present study is higher than global reports, thus drawing attention to the need for similar studies on the subject.


Body shaming, Weight shaming, Adolescent health

Full Text:



World Health Organization, Adolescent health and development. SEARO. 2017;

Duncan N, Zimmer-Gembeck MJ, Furman W. Sexual harassment and appearance-based peer victimization: Unique associations with emotional adjustment by gender and age. J Adolesc. 2018;75:12-21.

Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M. Associations of weight-based teasing and emotional well-being among adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(8):733-8.

Madowitz J, Knatz S, Maginot T, Crow SJ, Boutelle KN. Teasing, depression and unhealthy weight control behaviour in obese children. Pediatr Obes. 2012;7(6):446-52.

Puhl RM, Luedicke J. Weight-Based Victimization Among Adolescents in the School Setting: Emotional Reactions and Coping Behaviors. J Youth Adolesc. 2012;41(1):27-40.

Grabe S, Hyde JS, Lindberg SM. Body Objectification and Depression in Adolescents: The Role of Gender, Shame, and Rumination. Psychol Women Q. 2007;31(2):164-75.

Kamen LP, Seligman MEP. Explanatory style and health. Curr Psychol. 1987;6(3):207-18.

Bucchianeri MM, Eisenberg ME, Wall MM, Piran N, Neumark-Sztainer D. Multiple types of harassment: Associations with emotional well-being and unhealthy behaviors in adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2014;54(6):724-9.

Bucchianeri MM, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. Weightism, racism, classism, and sexism: Shared forms of harassment in adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2013;53(1):47-53.

Lind E. Is body shaming predicting poor physical health and is there a gender difference? Body Shame, Physical Illness Self-Reported Physical Health. 2016.

Brewis A, Bruening M. Weight Shame, Social Connection, and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(5):891.