“We found consistent evidence that overweight youth choose non-overweight friends more often than they were selected in return,” Schaefer said. Researchers found that overweight youth were mostly indifferent to the weight status of their friends. These results suggest that overweight youth often reach out to non-overweight peers for friendship, but are sometimes rebuffed in those efforts. As a consequence, overweight youth may turn to overweight peers for friendship.Young people are also more likely to socially marginalize those who are overweight. As a consequence, overweight youth have one fewer friend, on average, than normal weight young people.
“This is especially troubling since friendships are important sources of support and companionship,” Simpkins said. “Not having or losing friends is associated with higher depression and lower self-worth for young people, which could exacerbate the health problems associated with being overweight.”