According to a recently published study conducted by Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, of Boston University, and colleagues, children whose mothers are subject to chronic violence are 1.8 times more likely to become obese.
In this study, researchers analyzed 1595 children born between 1998 and 2000, with degrees of violence reported by mothers. The likelihood of obesity at age 5 was greater for those children whose mothers reported chronic violence in the home.
This research adds important insight both on the subject of obesity prevention and on the discourse on violence prevention. Researchers have already found links between adverse childhood experiences and health problems in adulthood. Previous studies have also linked domestic violence in childhood home with altered neuroendocrine system profiles, impaired socioemotional development, cognitive functioning, attachment to caregivers, emotional regulation, and poorer physical and mental health. This study adds further support on these subjects.
A violent unsettled home leads to changes in brain functioning, the disruption of metabolic systems and hormonal changes. These in turn can lead to obesity.
Many in our culture see obesity as an isolated issue, yet others wonder why despite attempts at dieting and calorie-counting, they are unable to maintain the healthy lean body type some seem able to attain so much more easily.
In fact, emotional issues grounded in childhood seem to be at the heart of many physical ailments, not simply making a person emotionally less able to maintain a healthy diet, but also negatively impacting body chemistry and brain composition. In fact, a groundbreaking adverse childhood experiences study by Dr. Vincent Felitti in the 1980’s, which connected adverse childhood experiences with multiple problems in adulthood, accidentally originated out of a weight loss study at Kaiser Permanente.