Overweight or obese children are more likely to have "frenemies" than non-overweight children. This photo is of students at Wellspring Academy, a special school that helps teens and college level students lose weight along with academic courses in Reedley, California, Oct. 21, 2009. Getty Images

It is commonly thought that overweight children tend to get bullied more often and are likely to have more "frenemies," as compared to their thinner counterparts, and a new study published in June supports this idea. Other studies over past years have also found that teens who are bullied about their weight may be more likely to become obese adults who struggle with poor body image and become emotional eaters.

"What we consistently see across time is this no reciprocation of friendships, so overweight kids not having their friendships reciprocated, especially by non-overweight kids. So, that's something, in a number of studies over time and across countries, that we've seen," said Kayla de la Haye, a behavioral scientist and assistant professor at the University of Southern California, who was lead author of one of the studies, published in the journal PLOS ONE in June.

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"We might expect that as rates of obesity go up and it becomes more normal or common, that we would see people sort of accepting that as a characteristic more," de la Haye noted.

"What's probably surprising is how consistently we see this rejection and how strong the effects are for overweight kids being disliked by their peers just really based on that characteristic," she told CNN.

The study analyzed data from questionnaires answered by 504 children from 28 separate primary education classrooms in the Netherlands. The data was collected between the years 2001 and 2002 and the data was a part of an ongoing nationwide research project called the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey.

Researchers found that on an average, among the participants, non-overweight children were listed as a friend by five of their classmates and as an enemy by two as compared to overweight children who were considered a friend by just four classmates and were disliked by three.

"This social environment characterized by fewer friendships and more antipathies is likely to put overweight youth at increased risk for psychosocial maladjustment," the study stated. "The resulting social isolation may also promote unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive food intake and decreased participation in sports and physical activities, which can lead to further weight gain and thus a cycle of poor physical and social outcomes."

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Childhood obesity has become a worldwide problem and it is said to have increased by 31 percent over the last 20 years, with about 42 million overweight or obese children around the world in 2013, according to the World Health Organization, University of California (USC) news reported.

In the United States, the percentage of obese children has increased threefold since the 1970s, with about one in five school-age children being overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarly, in the United Kingdom also, about one in five children aged between 10 and 11 years are obese, according to the country's National Health Service.

Being ignored, having less friends and being bullied due to ones' weight not only has a negative impact on ones emotional well-being but affects physical health as well, which can lead to excess weight gain for a child, de la Haye said.

Obesity during childhood has also been associated to a potentially higher risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, bullying and stigma, and breathing problems, according to the CDC.