-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are
physically, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected are at
greater risk for obesity later in life, a new review suggests.
British researchers found that abused children are 36 percent
more likely to be obese as adults. They concluded that child abuse
could be viewed as a modifiable risk factor for obesity.
"We found that being maltreated as a child significantly increased the risk of obesity in adult life," study author Dr. Andrea Danese, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said in a news release from King's College. "Prevention of child maltreatment remains paramount, and our findings highlight the serious long-term health effects of these experiences."
In conducting the study, the researchers examined data on more
than 190,000 people enrolled in 41 studies around the world. They
found the link between child abuse and adult obesity could not be
explained by childhood or adult socioeconomic status, smoking,
alcohol intake or level of physical activity.
Child abuse was also not associated with obesity among children
or teens, the researchers added, suggesting the children were not
abused because they were overweight or obese.
However, the researchers did find depression might explain why
some abused children become obese as adults. They noted that
additional research is needed to determine the effects of
depression on the body, specifically the brain, hormones that
regulate appetite and metabolism.
The study authors added that more research is needed to
determine what treatment strategies would prevent abused children
from becoming obese later in life.
"If the association is causal, as suggested by animal studies, childhood maltreatment could be seen as a potentially modifiable risk factor for obesity -- a health concern affecting one third of the population and often resistant to interventions," Danese said.
While the study found an association between child abuse and
obesity later in life, it did not prove cause and effect.
The study was published May 21 in the journal
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
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