Background: Childhood abuse has been associated with negative adult health outcomes, including obesity. This study sought to investigate the association between childhood physical abuse and adult obesity, while controlling for five clusters of potentially confounding factors: childhood stressors, socioeconomic indicators, marital status, health behaviors, and mental health.
Methods: Representative data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey were selected. The response rate was approximately 84%. Gender-specific logistic regression analyses determined the association between abuse and obesity, while controlling for age and race and five clusters of potentially confounding factors. Of the 12,590 respondents with complete data, 2,787 were obese and 976 reported physical abuse as a child or adolescent by someone close to them.
Results: Among women with childhood physical abuse compared to no abuse, the odds of obesity were 35% higher, even when controlling for age, race, and the five clusters of factors (odds ratio (OR) = 1.35; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.09, 1.67). Childhood physical abuse was not associated with adult obesity among men (OR = 1.12; 95% CI = 0.82, 1.53).
Conclusions: This study provides one of the first population-based, gender-specific analyses of the association between childhood physical abuse and obesity controlling for a wide range of factors. The gender-specific findings require further exploration.
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