PTSD Risk Factor For Weight Gain

sharma-obesity-sexualabuseRegular readers will be well aware of the common association of emotional, physical or sexual trauma with increased emotional eating, binge eating disorder and weight gain.

Now, a study by Kubzansky and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, published in JAMA-Psychiatry, confirms the relationship between post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and excess weight gain in the Nurses Health Study II.

This study includes over 54,000 participants, who were between 24 and 44 years of age in 1989 and were prospectively followed up to 2005.

Among women already presenting with at least 4 PTSD symptoms at the time of inclusion in the study, BMI increased more steeply during follow up than those, who did not have such symptoms.

Furthermore, women, who developed PTSD symptoms after inclusion in the study, showed steeper BMI gain and increased risk of becoming overweight or obese (almost 40% greater risk) despite having a normal weight trajectory prior to this diagnosis.

These effects were independent of whether or not the women also showed signs of depression.

These findings should remind us to explore a history of PTSD in patients presenting with excess weight and take appropriate measures to prevent weight gain in patients experiencing trauma that may prompt PTSD.

If you have experience with weight gain following a significant trauma, I’d like to hear about it.

Thunder Bay, ON

ResearchBlogging.orgKubzansky LD, Bordelois P, Jun HJ, Roberts AL, Cerda M, Bluestone N, & Koenen KC (2013). The Weight of Traumatic Stress: A Prospective Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Weight Status in Women. JAMA psychiatry (Chicago, Ill.) PMID: 24258147