The Relationship Between Child Abuse and Adult Obesity Among California Women

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 08/2007; 33(1):28-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2007.02.036
Source: PubMed


Despite clinical studies suggesting that child abuse is associated with adult obesity, very few studies have been conducted with large community or state-based samples. This study examines the relationship between child abuse and adult obesity, relative to other risk factors such as demographics, food insecurity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical inactivity, in a representative sample of California women.
Data are from the California Women's Health Survey, a state-based, random-digit-dial annual probability survey of California women. Participants included 11,115 nonpregnant women aged 18 or older, who provided complete data for all study variables. The telephone interview included assessment of child abuse (abstracted from the Traumatic Stress Schedule), food insecurity, perceived stress, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, height, and weight. Data were collected in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and analyzed in 2006.
Obese (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher) women were significantly more likely to report exposure to child abuse (odds ratio [OR]=1.32, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.23-1.42). In a multivariate model adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, education, food insecurity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, physical inactivity, and perceived stress, women exposed to child abuse remained significantly more likely to be obese than unexposed women (adjusted OR=1.27, 95% CI=1.13-1.40). The population-attributable fraction of obesity associated with any type of abuse was 4.5% (95% CI=2.28-6.55).
Exposure to child abuse is associated with adult obesity among California women, even accounting for other relevant variables. This supports the notion that child abuse and its sequelae may be important targets for public health intervention, particularly in subpopulations where the prevalence of child abuse is known to be high.

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