The social problems associated with obesity start as early as in preschool after a new study published in the Journal of Early Childhood Research found that preschoolers have a negative perception of their overweight counterparts.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Ryerson University who recited four stories to a group of 41 children aged between 32 and 70 months. Each of the stories contained a "nice" and a "mean" character.
At the end of each story, the researchers showed two faceless figures of an overweight and a normal weight individual. The children were then asked which of the two figures were likely to have been the villain and found that 44 percent picked out the obese figure compared to just two percent who believed that the obese figure was a nice character.
On being asked to explain their choice, the children noted that they picked out the obese figure as a villain as he "eats more than good people" and had a "bigger belly". "The preschoolers that we worked with in this study tended to have these negative perceptions. That tells us we need to pay more attention to what's happening during the preschool years", co-author of the study, Aurelia Di Santo said.