Children subjected to bullying could be at a greater risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease in later life, according to a new review.
The study, which was compiled by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, found a link between chronic stress in childhood and illnesses once they become adults.
Dr Susannah Tye, from the Mayo Clinic, said: “Bullying, as a form of chronic social stress, may have significant health consequences if not addressed early.”
Tye and colleagues added that their study highlights the importance of addressing bullying in children as a “standard component” of clinical care for children.
Bullying could have lasting effects on the body as continued physical or mental stress can put a strain on it known as an allostatic load.
It is thought an increased allostatic load can lead to changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic responses, heightening the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression.
“When an individual is exposed to brief periods of stress, the body can often effectively cope with the challenge and recover back to baseline,” said Tye.
“Yet, with chronic stress, this recovery process may not have ample opportunity to occur, and allostatic load can build to a point of overload. In such states of allostatic overload, physiological processes critical to health and well-being can be negatively impacted.
“We encourage child health professionals to assess both the mental and physical health effects of bullying. Once dismissed as an innocuous experience of childhood, bullying is now recognised as having significant psychological effects, particularly with chronic exposure.”
The research review has been published in the March/April issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

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