Michelle A. Albert, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, cardiology and founding director of the Center for the Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease at University of California, San Francisco and her colleagues studied the relationship between major life events and obesity in 21,904 middle-aged and older women. They focused on women with the highest prevalence of obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
The researchers found women who had more than one traumatic life event were 11 percent more likely to be obese than those who didn’t. Similarly, women who reported four or more negative life events were 36 percent more likely to be obese.
Although researchers still don’t understand the relationship, the implications are clear: Obesity can be a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer. And women, who are living longer, are at higher risk for developing these and other chronic illnesses.