Traumatic Life Events Increase Obesity Risk in Women

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Researchers suggest addressing stress related to major life events as part of obesity intervention.
Researchers suggest addressing stress related to major life events as part of obesity intervention.

Women who experience at least 1 traumatic event in their lifetime or who experience 4 or more negative life events in 5 years have an increased likelihood of being obese, according to results presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions held November 11-15, 2017, in Anaheim, California.

Researchers assessed data on 21,904 middle-aged and older women from the Women's Health Study 2012 to 2013 follow-up cohort to analyze the association between traumatic and negative life events and obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2). Traumatic events were defined as the death of a child, being the victim of an assault, experiencing a life-threatening illness, or spouse or child experiencing an accident. Negative events included the death of someone close, being robbed or burglarized, and being unemployed for 3 or more months. The mean age of the cohort was 72±6 years, and 23.3% of the group were obese.

 

After adjusting for confounding variables, data revealed an increased risk for obesity in women with at least 1 traumatic life event (odds ratio, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.20). A greater number of negative life events was also linked to an increase in likelihood of obesity (1.36 for participants with 4 or more events vs 1.17 for those with 1 event, compared with those with no negative events).

Women who experienced at least 1 traumatic life event or 4 or more negative life events in a span of 5 years had an increased likelihood of being obese. “These findings suggest addressing psychosocial stress related to major life events as part of obesity interventions,” concluded the researchers. 

Reference

Matsushita F, Durazo EM, Powell-Wiley T, et al. Cumulative negative traumatic life events and obesity in women. Presented at: American Heart Association Annual Scientific Sessions; November 11-15, 2017; Anaheim, CA. Abstract T2039.

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