Is Obesity a Risk Factor of Bullying at Intermediate School in the City of Hail?

Bullying related to obesity among intermediate school pupils

Bullying Obesity Adolescent

Authors

  • Salma Abedelmalek
    s_abedelmalek@yahoo.fr
    Department of Sport Science and Physical Activity, College of Education, University of Ha’il, Hail, Saudi Arabia AND Laboratory of Physiology and Functional Explorations, School of Medicine, Sousse, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia
  • Halima Adam Department of Psychology, College of Education, University of Ha’il, Hail, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Sultan Alardan Department of Sport Science and Physical Activity, College of Education, University of Ha’il, Hail, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Sami Yassin Laboratory of Physiology and Functional Explorations, School of Medicine, Sousse, Tunisia, Sudan
  • Nizar Souissi High Institute of Sport and Physical Education of Sfax, University of Sfax, Sfax AND High Institute of Sport and Physical Education, Ksar-Saïd, Manouba University, Manouba, Tunisia, Tunisia
  • Hamdi Chtourou Research Unit Physical Activity, Sport and Health (UR18JS01), National Observatory of Sports, Tunis AND High Institute of Sport and Physical Education of Sfax, University of Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia, Tunisia
January 21, 2024
January 24, 2024

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Background: Bullying is aggressive behavior carried out by an individual or a group of people against another person or another group. This study was conducted to assess the prevalence of bullying related to obesity among intermediate school pupils.

Methods: In the Ha'il region of Saudi Arabia in the year 2022, a cross-sectional study was conducted at governmental intermediate schools. The study involved 1089 students (566 girls and 523 boys) who successfully completed the research out of an initial total of 1275 students. About 10% of the initial sample was excluded due to missing data, 5% because of bullying unrelated to obesity, and 2% due to experiencing bullying outside of the school setting. Statistical analyses were carried out using the SPSS® software. To discern differences among bullying groups across various variables, one-way and two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used. The correlation between body mass index (BMI) and bullying was assessed using bivariate Pearson’s product-moment correlation to check for collinearity. All statistical tests were two-sided, and a type I error (α) of 0.05 was applied.

Results: A positive correlation between BMI and bullying (r = 0.058; P = 0.040) was reported. The overall rate of bullying was 31% with the most prevalent type of bullying being verbal (77.5%) followed by physical (14.8%) and social (7.7%). Moreover, students of 15 years of age were more at risk of being bullied than their peers (12.4%). However, no significant difference related to sex or educational level variables was reported. Moreover, the results indicated that 94% of the students who were bullied did not get enough sleep (> 7 hours; P < 0.001). ANOVA indicated that 86.9% of students experiencing bullying resort to eating when facing stress and tension. Additionally, 52% of bullied students exhibit irregular eating habits, foregoing regular meals.

Conclusion: In the present study, a high prevalence rate of bullying related to obesity among schoolchildren was reported. Therefore, mandatory serious efforts should be undertaken in the region by educational staff (i.e., teachers), health care providers, and decision-makers to deal with the problem. Additionally, health programs need to be endorsed in schools for the prevention and management of childhood obesity in the region.