Compounding the mental and physical pain that accompanies childhood abuse, a new study suggests abuse may lead to adult obesity. Researchers studied 410 children who had court-substantiated cases of physical and sexual abuse before the age of 11; 30 years later, their body mass index scores were compared with a control group. Physical abuse sufferers had higher BMI scores; those who had suffered sexual abuse did not, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Researchers believe the former type of abuse may affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, triggering an increase in peripheral cortisol, which has been linked with abdominal obesity. More simply, they also suspect that overeating could be a way of dealing with the pain.