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).

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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. 

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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.

This article originally appeared on The Cardiology Advisor