Women with PTSD may have higher risk for obesity

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Symptoms that accompany post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been considered potential risk factors for weight gain, but the link between PTSD and obesity is now a little clearer.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who suffer from PTSD are more likely to become obese or overweight even if they have a normal BMI before PTSD symptoms actually manifest.

Nurses' Health Study II

To explore the obesity-PTSD connection, researchers surveyed more than 54,000 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study II. All of the participants were between the ages of 24 and 44 when the study was started in 1989.

Using a PTSD screening questionnaire, the women were asked about the worst events of their lives and whether or not they had experienced PTSD-like symptoms as a result of that event.

BMI increase

Women who had reported at least four symptoms of PTSD before the study showed significant increases in BMI. And women who showed four symptoms of the condition either at the beginning of the study or later on were more likely to become obese or overweight.

The researchers noted that PTSD might have more significant effects on physical health than previously thought, and primary care providers should screen patients who have experienced trauma.

"Physicians may be more effective if they can recognize and manage this type of emotional distress," the researchers wrote. "Our work may also suggest that women with PTSD should be monitored or undergo screening for development of adverse cardiometabolic outcomes."

More information about the study can be found in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: Medical News Today

 
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