Are you, like one third of adults and children in the United States, obese? Is it difficult to shed pounds? Are you unable to resist a little taste of ice cream? Scientists have a new incentive for you, and it has nothing to do with your heart: Very young children like people better when they’re of normal weight.

Who doesn’t want to be liked by little children?

The European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, England, found that 4-, 5- and 6-year-old girls have already formed negative opinions of obesity.

They tend to associate being overweight with having fewer friends, losing races, doing poorly in school, being naughty in school and not being invited to parties.

Scientists used control groups of children and picture books. Only one of 43 children chose the obese boy over a normal weight boy as a personal friend. Two out of 30 chose an obese girl as a friend over a girl of normal weight.

Another study in 2003 showed that 10- to 12-year-old children had worse attitudes toward obesity than they did during the 1960s.

The fear, of course, is that such perceptions might lead to overweight children being teased or ostracized.

And the answer? Education, as always. Children need to know about healthy eating, and they need to be cautioned about stereotyping.

But there’s an option for fat people, too: Stick to a diet.

Children might like you better, and you might like yourself better, too.