NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Being bullied as a kid could have an even greater impact than first thought. New research shows being bullied as a child can lead to bad health even decades later.
Jodi Albertini recently told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson she was mercilessly bullied as a kid.
“I was a little more introverted as a child, I cried every day after school,” she said. “At recess we were the outcasts.”
Decades later, she said it still bothers her to talk about it — and now the entire ordeal could be making her sick.
A new study shows that students who are bullied at school are more likely to suffer from health complications like heart disease and diabetes later in life.
“I can see the correlation, absolutely,” Albertini said.
The Swedish study followed about 900 students from the age of 16 for 27 years — until they turned 43. Researchers found people who felt bullied, left out or isolated as students had the highest risk of suffering from poor health as adults.
“They have higher level of cortisol, which leads to obesity, high blood sugar and cholesterol problems,” Dr. Daniel Bober said.
Bober said one likely explanation is that being repeatedly bullied can activate a child’s stress system, increasing levels of the hormone cortisol, which over time can take a toll on the body.
“For me, I’m heavy right now,” Albertini said.
Now that she knows about the potential for future health problems, Albertini said she’ll use her past to help motivate her to make healthier choices.
“Trauma, especially in childhood, are the ones that stick with us,” she said.
Doctors said the key is to make school a less volatile environment, so today’s kids never have to be at risk.
Researchers also found the health effect of bullying was slightly stronger in girls than it was in boys. They’re not sure why.
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