High Prevalence of Sexual Abuse Victims in Bariatric Program

weight scale helpRegular readers will be well aware of the fact that emotional, physical and sexual abuse can often lead to overeating and significant weight gain.

In a paper, just published in the Journal of Obesity, we looked at the prevalence of self-reported sexual abuse in 500 consecutively recruited patients attending our bariatric clinic.

As is typical for bariatric programs, the vast majority of patients were female (88%) with a mean BMI of 48.

The self-reported prevalence of past abuse was 22%, whereby abused responders had a significantly worse health status, greater incidence of alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorders and depression. Abused patients also tended to have lower household incomes than their peers.

Despite this rather high prevalence of sexual abuse, there was no direct correlation between self-reported abuse and BMI levels (clearly implying that there are many other reasons why someone may gain weight).

This study should remind clinicians to take careful abuse histories in their obese patients, especially if they present with a past history of alcohol problems or depression.

Kananaskis, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgGabert DL, Majumdar SR, Sharma AM, Rueda-Clausen CF, Klarenbach SW, Birch DW, Karmali S, McCargar L, Fassbender K, & Padwal RS (2013). Prevalence and predictors of self-reported sexual abuse in severely obese patients in a population-based bariatric program. Journal of obesity, 2013 PMID: 23864941