The emotional ramifications of abuse of young girls are often serious for a lifetime. An associated problem appears to be food addiction as an adult. In its May 2013 online edition, the research journal Obesity reported, Abuse victimization in childhood or adolescence and risk of food addiction in adult women. Although the mechanisms are unclear, child abuse appears to increase obesity risk in adulthood. This research shows a history of child abuse is strongly associated with food addiction in this population. Salynn Boyles reported for MedPage Today on May 30, 2013, Abused Girls May Binge on Food as Adults.
A new study has found women who experience both sexual and physical abuse during childhood had a more than twofold increased risk for food addiction in their adult lives. According to Susan A. Mason, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues, severe physical and sexual abuse were each associated with approximately a
90% increased risk for food addiction. Of deep concern has been that national surveys suggest that greater than a third of girls in the U.S. experience some degree of physical or sexual abuse before they reach adulthood.
Previous studies have linked childhood abuse with an increased risk for adult obesity and anorexia nervosa and bulimia. However, this new analysis is the first to explore an association between child sexual and physical abuse and a wider range of binge eating and food obsession issues which are now grouped together under the umbrella term ‘food addiction’. The researchers wrote, “Our findings suggest that women with a history of childhood abuse are more likely to report engaging in these uncontrolled, addiction-like eating behaviors, and we also found that the harsher the abuse they experienced, the stronger the association.” Further investigations should be pursued to help determine manners in which to help girls who have been abused cope better in order to help them lead more naturally healthy lives.