Local research shows trauma during childhood can lead to obesity as an adult
Children who experience stressful and traumatic events have an increased risk of obesity, according to a new study by Nevada researchers.
The research was conducted by the Healthy Nevada Project, a collaboration between the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and Renown Health.
The study examined the genetic makeup, mental health and body mass index (BMI) of 16,000 participants. Researchers found that people who experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences, including poverty, food insecurity or abuse, were 150% more likely to become obese as adults.
Karen Schlauch is a research professor at DRI who led the study. She said she learned that obesity isn’t only caused by genetics.
“What has been most surprising to me is that the mutations you carry may alone not influence disease at all. The direct influence between having a not-so-nice childhood and having a higher BMI could easily be explained by coping mechanisms; it could easily be explained by bad habits,” Schlauch said.
Schlauch was also surprised that more than 65% of participants said they’ve had a traumatic experience as a child. She hopes the research makes health care providers screen people who may be at risk.
As a note of disclosure, Renown Health is a financial supporter of KUNR.
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