Food addiction more likely in adult women with history of childhood abuse

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Food addiction is prevalent more in women who have experienced childhood abuse than those who haven’t. As adults those women who were physically and mentally tortured and abused have serious food addiction problems than those who experienced a natural childhood, reports a new study which was recently published in the Journal Obesity.

The findings of the study provides information about the causes and the potential treatments required for such food addiction and obesity cases.

According to the surveys conducted by the National Surveys, more than one thirds of the the total women population in America have experienced some sort of physical, mental or psychological abuse before the age of 18. The childhood abuse not only effected the mental health of the women but the physical health of the the women was also drastically effected.

There has been a relevant link between the childhood abuse and obesity, according to many studies. The cause of this link is probably due to the immense amount of stress leading to over eating of comfort foods or foods high in sugar or fat. Obesity is a result of binging in an uncontrolled manner.

Study details:
As a result of this link found in the recent studies, Susan Mason, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and her colleagues wanted to learn more by running their own set of experiments.

With respect to the link between child hood abuse and obesity, Susan Mason along with her colleagues studied 57,321 adult participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, who had sexual child abuse histories during 2001 and were currently food addiction patients in the year 2009. Food addiction referred to eating disorders, causing stress and loss of function.

Findings of the study:
The findings of the study were quite alarming. It was found that the food addiction was most likely among women. About 8% suffered from food addiction, with the figures rising for those who were physically and sexually assaulted before the age of 18.

The women who experienced childhood abuse were twice more likely to be food addiction subjects compared to those who had a childhood without violence and sexual abuse.

Women who suffered from both physical and sexual abuse in their childhood were more likely to be addicted to food resulting in middle adulthood obesity. The rate of food addiction increased further in such cases.

The prevalence of food addiction varied from 6-16% for women who did not have a history of child abuse to women who were physically and sexually abused during their childhood respectively.

It was also found that women who suffered from food addiction or over eating comfort foods were heavier than those women without food addiction.

Before the conclusions about the link between childhood abuse and food addiction are made, Dr. Mason and her colleagues suggest that there should be steps taken to find ways to reduce the risk of food addiction among women who experience childhood abuse once enough evidence of the association has been accumulated.

“Women with histories of trauma who show a propensity toward uncontrolled eating could potentially be referred for prevention programs, while obese women might be screened for early trauma and addiction-like eating so that any psychological impediments to weight loss could be addressed,” said Dr. Mason. “Of course, preventing childhood abuse in the first place would be the best strategy of all, but in the absence of a perfect child abuse prevention strategy, it is important that we try to head off its negative long-term health consequences,” she concluded.

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