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Overweight kids have less friends than thinner ones, study finds

Children really can be the most cruel of all.

Overweight kids are excluded from friendships, disliked by other kids and tend to dislike more classmates than their thinner peers, a new study found.

There were other troubling findings. Although the pre-teen volunteers for the study listed, on average, as many friends as kids of a healthier weight, the study found that they were actually 1.7 times more likely to be disliked and 1.2 times more likely to dislike other children.

In fact, overweight children will more frequently describe another child as a friend, even if he or she does not reciprocate that opinion, the study found.

“Our finding is alarming because if we continue to have social environments where fat shaming is the norm, these kids will continue to be ostracized,” Kayla de la Haye, lead author of the study, told Science Daily. “Those adverse interactions increase the risk of loneliness, depression, poor eating habits and illness.”

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Childhood obesity is only getting worse around the world. Over the two decades, from 1993 to 2013, childhood obesity increased globally by 31 percent to a total of 42 million obese children, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., the number of obese children has tripled since the 1970’s and now makes up 17% of all kids in the country.