Study: Weight issues keep girls out of college

Students who are preparing to start back to college should take a minute to look around their classrooms.

How many fat girls do you see sitting in your classrooms? Apparently, you won't be seeing as many as graduated from high school. Not even close.

A new study conducted by Robert Crosnoe, an associate professor of sociology and population research at the University of Texas at Austin, reports that obese girls are half as likely to attend college as their nonobese peers.

That number changes a little bit depending on how many fat girls the student went to high school with -- the higher the number, the more likely the girl was to go on to college.

Crosnoe took into consideration factors such as race, socioeconomic class and intelligence, but found that even when he compared girls from the same backgrounds, the fat ones had a significantly lower chance of going to college.

His study shows that obese girls have a higher rate of low self-esteem, self-rejection, alcohol and drug use, suicidal thoughts, truancy and failures. So, basically, he's finding that being fat doesn't only have detrimental physical health effects but also can have fairly disastrous mental effects.

Crosnoe hopes that girls of all sizes can recognize how temporary their high school years are and to not let a bad experience there permanently affect their futures. But he, like everyone else, doesn't yet know how to foster that kind of an attitude in a teenager.

"It has more to do with how girls perceive themselves and how they think other people perceive them," he said. "Lots of girls are completely wrong in how others view them. But it's not all in their heads. Girls are clearly penalized for being overweight."