Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Obesity

Did you know that traumatic events during our childhood can significantly impact our likelihood of developing obesity as an adult?

Did you know that traumatic events during our childhood can significantly impact our likelihood of developing obesity as an adult? Over the past decade, this has been a field of extensive research by pediatricians, obesity experts, and psychologists alike.

Let’s start with some background.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)?

These can include any traumatic event suffered by an individual under 18 years old, including:

    1. neglect

    2. abuse

    3. witnessing crime

    4. bullying

    5. parental conflict

    6. mental illness

    7. substance abuse

Adverse childhood experiences are linked to chronic health conditions as they can derail healthy brain development.

Schroeder et al. 2021 completed a meta-analysis aggregating the existing research and showed that girls were more sensitive to developing obesity after adverse childhood experiences. Repeated adverse experiences and economic hardship were associated with increased rates of obesity. And unlike PTSD or depression which can manifest shortly after trauma, many children did not develop obesity for 2-5 years after.  

Fortunately, not every child who experiences a traumatic event will develop obesity, or suffer from adverse health consequences. Addressing these traumas through therapy as an adult has been shown to be a healthy method of healing. A recent study published by Almuneef et al. discussed how cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to resolve internal trauma from ACEs.

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