Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

New research links children’s perception of their body image with bullying

23 April 2013

Body image may be an important mediator in the relationship between weight, victimisation and bullying according to new research by the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, Trinity College Dublin and the ESRI.

The findings recently published online in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health show that body image had a stronger association with victimisation and bullying than objective weight classification.

These findings have potential implications for bullying education and policy in schools, in that children with poor body image need to be identified as an at-risk group along with those who are objectively defined as abnormal weight.

Commenting on the significance of the research, the lead author Dr Udo Reulbach, a medical practitioner and child health epidemiologist based in the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, says;

'While issues regarding weight are the common denominator for victimisation and bullying, the underlying factors are different, requiring different strategies for prevention and intervention.'

This study presents findings from the first wave of data collection from Growing Up in Ireland - the National Longitudinal Study of Children. Growing Up in Ireland data have been funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The project has been designed and implemented by the joint ESRI-TCD Growing Up in Ireland Study Team. The HRB Centre for Primary Research Care is a collaborative venture between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Queen's University Belfast (QUB).

The journal can be viewed at