Toxic stress from childhood trauma causes obesity, too

HBO’s four-part series, “The Weight of the Nation”, says a lack of exercise, genetics, an overabundance of sugar and food marketing cause 78 million Americans to be obese and morbidly obese. But HBO missed something significant — the link between obesity and adverse childhood experiences. For millions of people, it’s more important than all the rest.

More than six million obese and morbidly obese people are likely to have suffered physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse during their childhoods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ACE Study. It’s likely that millions more can point to other types of childhood trauma – including loss of a parent through divorce, living with an alcoholic parent or a mentally ill family member – or other traumatic experiences such as rape or assault — as a starting point for their weight gain.

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