Childhood Obesity Often Linked to Trauma

Childhood obesity is often linked to trauma according to a new finding.  Victims of childhood abuse also suffer a higher risk of obesity in adulthood.

A study of more than 15,000 teenagers found that childhood trauma raises the odds of obesity at a later age.

Time magazine recently reported a 2009 finding that sexual abuse in childhood increases a boy’s risk of becoming obese in adulthood by 66 percent, and increases a woman’s risk of having an eating disorder.

Other studies indicate similar findings: In 2007, a study of more than 11,000 women showed that those who were victims of childhood abuse had a 27 percent higher risk of obesity than those who had not been abused. And, in the late 1980s, Dr. Vincent Felitti of Kaiser Permanente conducted a study of nearly 300 patients in his obesity treatment program and found that half of them had suffered sexual abuse as children.

So, what’s the connection? Many doctors say in such cases, obesity is driven by the abused child’s need to self-medicate through food. Compared to people who weren’t abused as children, victims have also been linked to higher rates of drug abuse for the same reason. Dr. Felitti said that for these people, self-medication, whether it’s through eating or drugs, doesn’t feel like a problem; it feels like a solution.

Unfortunately, though, just like drug use, overeating can lead to serious problems in the long-term, even after a person has escaped abuse.

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