A Silver Lining: The Role of Ethnic Diversity on Co-Occurring Trajectories of Weight Status and Peer Victimization Across Early Adolescence


Purpose: Although it is well-established that higher weight status youth are at greater risk of peer victimization, it is unknown how weight status and victimization develop concurrently; thus, the current study examined the co-occurrence of weight status and victimization trajectories across early adolescence. Furthermore, the role of ethnicity, including a novel measure of individual-level ethnic diversity exposure at school, was evaluated. Methods: Participants included 5,991 U.S. boys and girls (52% female; 32% Latino; 20% white; 14% East/Southeast Asian; 12% African–American/black) from 26 urban middle schools. Participants self-reported height and weight as well as peer victimization across four timepoints from sixth to eighth grade. Survey data was collected between 2009 and 2014. Results: Growth mixture modeling identified five weight status groups (Low, Moderate, High, Decreasing, and Increasing) and four victimization groups (Low, High, Decreasing, and Increasing) trajectories. Parallel growth mixture modeling indicated that adolescents in the moderate weight status trajectory experienced the least amount of victimization; adolescents in the high weight status trajectory reported the highest levels of increasing and stable-high victimization. Moreover, higher weight status youth exposed to greater ethnic diversity at school were more likely to experience low victimization. Conclusions: The study highlights the importance of belonging to a normative weight status trajectory for experiencing low peer victimization, yet also shows the large variability in the victimization experiences of higher weight status youth. Greater exposure to ethnic diversity at school appears to play a significant role in offsetting risk of victimization among higher weight status adolescents.



Document Type





Co-occurring trajectories, Early adolescence, Ethnic diversity, Ethnicity, Obesity, Peer victimization, Weight status

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Adolescent Health