Childhood bullying leads to ill health as an adult

The effects of bullying last well into adulthood, according to a study in Psychological Medicine.

The authors used data from the National Child Development Study, which followed more than 17,000 people born in 1958. Parents were asked whether their children had been bullied when they were aged 7 and 11. When these children then reached 45, they were tested for various health markers focusing on obesity and inflammatory processes, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Raised levels of CRP have been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

At age 45, study participants who had experienced bullying victimisation had higher levels of inflammation than their non-bullied peers, and women who had been bullied were more likely to be obese. The findings were independent of the effects of correlated childhood risks (such as parental social class and childhood BMI) and key adult risk factors (such as smoking and diet).

Bullying has previously been shown to have an impact on adult mental health. The authors argue that these findings showing an impact on physical health add impetus to the importance of early intervention to stop bullying activity.

Source: Bullying Victimization in Childhood Predicts Inflammation and Obesity at Mid-life: A Five-decade Birth Cohort Study (2015), Psychological Medicine.

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