Policy Actions to Address Weight-Based Bullying and Eating Disorders in Schools: Views of Teachers and School Administrators

Rebecca M. Puhl, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, S. Bryn Austin, Young Suh, Dorothy B. Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Weight-related bullying is prevalent among youth and associated with adverse health consequences, including increased risk for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviors, which are risk factors for eating disorders. Although concerns about these problems have stimulated calls for broader intervention efforts in schools, actions thus far have been limited. This study examined educators' perspectives about potential policy actions to address these issues in schools. METHODS: Educators (N=240) completed an online questionnaire assessing their support for 11 potential school-based policy actions to address weight-related bullying and eating disorders. Participants also rated policies according to their feasibility and potential for positive impact. RESULTS: Forty-eight percent of participants observed weight-related bullying in their school and 99% expressed the importance of intervening in such incidents. A large majority (75%-94%) supported 8 of the 11 policies, especially actions requiring school-based health curriculum to include content on eating disorder prevention (94%), and addressing weight-bullying through antibullying policies (92%), staff training (89%), and school curriculum (89%). Strongly supported policies were viewed by participants as being the most impactful and feasible to implement. CONCLUSIONS: Educators recognize weight-related bullying and eating disorders as problems in their schools that warrant improved prevention and intervention efforts at the policy level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, American School Health Association.


  • Bullying
  • Eating disorders
  • Policy
  • Weight


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