Children who have been severely neglected or physically, emotionally or sexually abused are 36 percent more likely to be obese as adults than non-abused children, according to a new study from King’s College London.
The researchers ruled out several factors that may explain the link between childhood maltreatment and obesity in adulthood, including socio-economic status, current smoking or alcohol intake, or physical activity. Current depression, however, may account for why some abused children become obese.
In a press release from King’s College London, Dr. Andrea Danese, lead author and child and adolescent psychiatrist, said:
“We found that being maltreated as a child significantly increased the risk of obesity in adult life. Prevention of child maltreatment remains paramount and our findings highlight the serious long-term health effects of these experiences.”
The authors advocate for better prevention and treatment interventions for children who are abused.
The report appeared this week in Molecular Psychiatry.