Skip to content

Childhood Abuse Linked With This Epidemic in Black Women


Scientists have just released a damning study that suggests strongly that childhood physical and sexual abuse has a direct link to a condition that’s become a national medical emergency: obesity

Researchers from Boston University said that higher levels of childhood physical or sexual abuse are associated with an increased risk for obesity among adult African American women, reports the Los Angeles Times. African Americans overall have the highest rates of obesity of any ethnic group in the country, and the black female demographic is particularly susceptible.

The study was published in the August journal of Pediatric and is based on the Black Women’s Health Study, an ongoing study begun in 1985. In 2005, 33,298 women responded to questions about childhood physical or sexual abuse. Nearly 58 percent of the women reported at least one instance of abuse as a child or teen, and 11 percent reported severe physical or sexual abuse. And “severe abuse,” the study authors wrote, was “positively associated with depressive symptoms, smoking, body weight and inversely associated with being married and household income.”

The study also pointed out the following:

Other behaviors, reproductive history and mental health explained adult obesity to some extent, the researchers said. And mechanisms linking childhood adversity with adult health are poorly understood, the researcher stated.

They suggest several plausible ways abuse and later obesity may be linked, including some that seem like common sense such as emotional eating to cope with the abuse rather than to fuel the body.

Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, strokes and other ailments; the study considered participants obese if they had a BMI — or body mass index, which is based on a height-weight ratio — of 30, and to have “central” obesity if they had a waist that measured more than 35 inches.

To read further, click on the following link to go to the L.A. Times.