Relationship Between Childhood Abuse and Body Mass Index in Young Adulthood: Mediated by Depression and Anxiety?

Leonie K. Elsenburg*, Aart C. Liefbroer, Annelies E. van Eeden, Hans W. Hoek, Albertine J. Oldehinkel, Nynke Smidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We examined whether childhood abuse is related to body mass index (BMI) in young adults and whether this relationship is mediated by depression and anxiety. Data are from the Dutch longitudinal cohort study TRAILS (n(females) = 836, n(males) = 719). At wave 4, childhood sexual, physical and verbal abuse, and lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were assessed. BMI was measured at wave 4 and 5 (mean age = 19.2/22.4 years). Sex-stratified structural equation models were estimated. Females who had experienced sexual abuse had a higher BMI at wave 4 (B = 0.97, 95%CI = [-0.01,1.96]) and a higher increase in BMI between wave 4 and 5 (B = 0.52, 95%CI = [0.04,1.01]) than females who had not experienced sexual abuse. Additionally, MDD and BMI at wave 4 were related in females (B = 1.35, 95%CI = [0.52,2.18]). MDD mediated the relationship between sexual abuse and BMI at wave 4 in females. In addition, sexual abuse moderated the relationship between MDD and BMI at wave 4. The relationship was stronger among females who had experienced sexual abuse than among females who had not. Prevention of BMI changes among females who experienced sexual abuse may thus be warranted, particularly when they developed MDD. MDD treatment, such as abuse-focused psychotherapy, may aid this prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalChild Maltreatment
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2-Jun-2022

Keywords

  • childhood abuse
  • major depressive disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • body mass index
  • young adulthood
  • INDIVIDUAL-LIVES SURVEY
  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • MAJOR DEPRESSION
  • COHORT PROFILE
  • PHYSICAL ABUSE
  • SEXUAL-ABUSE
  • MALTREATMENT
  • OBESITY
  • ASSOCIATIONS
  • ADOLESCENCE

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