Background: No cross-national studies have examined public perceptions about weight-based bullying in youth. Objectives: To conduct a multinational examination of public views about (i) the prevalence/seriousness of weight-based bullying in youth; (ii) the role of parents, educators, health providers and government in addressing this problem and (iii) implementing policy actions to reduce weight-based bullying. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of adults in the United States, Canada, Iceland and Australia (N = 2866).
Results: Across all countries, weight-based bullying was identified as the most prevalent reason for youth bullying, by a substantial margin over other forms of bullying (race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion). Participants viewed parents and teachers as playing major roles in efforts to reduce weight-based bullying. Most participants across countries (77–94%) viewed healthcare providers to be important intervention agents. Participants (65–87%) supported government augmentation of anti-bullying laws to include prohibiting weight-based bullying. Women expressed higher agreement for policy actions than men, with no associations found for participants' race/ethnicity or weight. Causal beliefs about obesity were associated with policy support across countries.
Conclusions: Across countries, strong recognition exists of weight-based bullying and the need to address it. These findings may inform policy-level actions and clinical practices concerning youth vulnerable to weight-based bullying.