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The Prominence of Childhood Abuse and With It, Increased Risk of Obesity

First Posted: Sep 02, 2014 04:09 PM EDT
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Childhood abuse may increase the risk of adult obesity, according to recent findings.

Researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute found that children who experienced excessive hardships early in life were more prone to negative eating habits that contributed to being overweight or obese later in life.

For their findings, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 23 studies involving 112,000 people. They found that participants who had experienced childhood trauma were at a 34 percent increased risk of being obese compared to those who did not experience childhood abuse.

Those who experienced physical abuse saw a 28 percent increased risk, while emotional abuse or a combination of the two resulted in a higher risk of obesity at anywhere between 36 to 45 percent, respectively.

"The study clearly shows that difficult life events leave traces which can manifest as disease much later in life. The mechanisms behind this process include stress, negative patterns of thought and emotions, poor mental health, increased inflammation, as well as lowered immune function and metabolism," said Erik Hemmingsson, researcher at the Huddinge Department of Medicine at Karolinska Institute, via Medical Xpress.

Though numerous factors influence one's risk of obesity, including both genetic and environmental components, researchers reiterate the prevalence of child abuse throughout the country and how this can dramatically affect a individual's health later in life.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the article, "Effects of childhood abuse on adult obesity; a systematic review and meta-analysis," via the journal Obesity Reviews.

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