New research finds link between PTSD and weight gain among women

The long-reaching effects of post-traumatic stress disorder may extend to significant weight gain for women, according to a new study published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers collected data on more than 50,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II between the years 1989 and 2009. The women responded to questions about traumatic events in their lives and PTSD symptoms. 

Women of normal weight who developed PTSD had a 36 percent higher risk of becoming overweight or obese compared to women who had no trauma exposure or had experienced trauma but did not have PTSD. These findings were independent of whether the woman had depression. Women with at least four symptoms of PTSD had a steeper rise in their body mass index. 

These findings illustrate the importance of screening for post-traumatic stress disorder in high-risk populations.