Bullying behavior and its consequences is a public health issue of significant concern, due to the wide range of deleterious health, mental health, behavioral, and psychosocial problems identified among adolescent bully victims. Even so, the role of dietary behaviors in bullying and bully victimization remains unclear. Our objective was to examine the associations between dietary patterns among youth, bully perpetration, and bully victimization. We employed a cross-national study of approximately 150,000 youths, aged 10–16, from 40 different countries with complete information about bully victimization, perpetration, and a number of dietary items reflecting three different nutritional dimensions – health food consumption, junk food consumption, and meal deprivation. The findings indicate that health food consumption, junk food consumption, and meal deprivation were significantly associated with bully perpetration, regardless of whether bullying co-occurred with victimization (low health food consumption: OR = 1.24, CI = 1.19–1.30; high junk food consumption: OR = 1.66, CI = 1.60–1.73; frequent meal deprivation: OR = 1.48, CI = 1.42–1.54). Even so, none of the three dietary dimensions were associated with significant changes in the odds of bully victimization in the absence of perpetration. Ultimately, the predicted probability of being a bully more than doubles among youths reporting all three dimensions of nutritional risk, relative to youths reporting none. We propose that early dietary interventions among youth that diminish hunger and improve eating behaviors among at-risk populations may help to reduce the prevalence of bullying and its negative sequelae.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science