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Link Between Adverse Experiences and Obesity

J Pediatr; ePub 2018 Oct 1; Davis, Barnes, et al

The results of a recent study of adolescents with anonymous data support the hypothesis that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and obesity are strongly associated. Moreover, these findings suggest that child health professionals may need to screen for ACEs as an important aspect of clinical weight management. Data were drawn from the Minnesota Student Survey, a large (n=105,759), statewide, anonymous survey of public school students in 8th, 9th, and 11th grades. Self-reported height and weight were used to calculate body mass index. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine associations between self-reported ACEs and weight status, controlling for key sociodemographic characteristics. Researchers found:

  • ACEs were positively associated with weight status; adolescents with more ACEs were more likely to have overweight, obesity, and severe obesity than adolescents with no ACEs.
  • Adolescents who reported an ACE were 1.2, 1.4, and 1.5 times as likely to have overweight, obesity, and severe obesity, respectively, compared with their peers with no ACEs.
  • There was no relationship between ACEs and underweight.


Davis L, Barnes AJ, Gross AC, Ryder JR, Shlafer RJ. Adverse childhood experiences and weight status among adolescents. [Published online ahead of print October 1, 2018]. J Pediatr. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.08.071.

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