Overweight and the Experience of Teasing and Ridicule: Associations With the Fear of Being-laughed at in Children and Adolescents
1University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany
2University of Zurich, Switzerland
Background: Is the fear of being-laughed at (i.e., gelotophobia) a problem for adolescents with overweight and obesity? Methods: In two online interviews with gelotophobic adults (Study I: 102 English-speaking participants, Study II: 22 German-speaking participants) assumed reasons for the personal development of gelotophobia were asked for. Experiences of teasing and ridicule related to physical appearance (including weight-related topics) were reported quite often. In Study III (participants: 75 Zurich adolescents) associations between objective weight status, weight perceptions (e.g., “much too big”), experience of weight-related teasing and ridicule, and gelotophobia were analysed. Findings: Whereas weight perceptions were unrelated to the psychological variables, objective weight status was linked with the experience of teasing and ridicule and thereby indirectly to the fear of being laughed at. Discussion: Given the debate on overweight and health risks, implications of the study are discussed within the context of an increasing tendency to stigmatize overweight individuals (Funding: SNF International Short Visit).