Association of Childhood Sexual Abuse With Obesity in a Community Sample of Lesbians
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
2007 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
Volume 15, Issue 4, pages 1023–1028, April 2007
How to Cite
Aaron, D. J. and Hughes, T. L. (2007), Association of Childhood Sexual Abuse With Obesity in a Community Sample of Lesbians. Obesity, 15: 1023–1028. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.634
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Received for review November 21, 2005, Accepted in final from October 20, 2006
- sexual orientation;
- body weight;
- sexual abuse
Objective: Our goal was to examine the association between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and obesity in a community-based sample of self-identified lesbians.
Research Methods and Procedures: A diverse sample of women who self-identified as lesbian was recruited from the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Women (n = 416) were interviewed about sexual abuse experiences that occurred before the age of 18. Self-reported height and weight were used to calculate BMI and categorize women as normal-weight (<25.0 kg/m2), overweight (25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2), obese (30.0 to 39.9 kg/m2), or severely obese (≥40 kg/m2). The relationship between CSA and BMI was examined using multinomial logistic regression analysis.
Results: Overall, 31% of women in the sample reported CSA, and 57% had BMI ≥25.0 kg/m2. Mean BMI was 27.8 (±7.2) kg/m2 and was significantly higher among women who reported CSA than among those who did not report CSA (29.4 vs. 27.1, p < 0.01). CSA was significantly related to weight status; 39% of women who reported CSA compared with 25% of women who did not report CSA were obese (p = 0.004). After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and education, women who reported CSA were more likely to be obese (odds ratio, 1.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–3.4) or severely obese (odds ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–5.2).
Discussion: Our findings, in conjunction with the available literature, suggest that CSA may be an important risk factor for obesity. Understanding CSA as a factor that may contribute to weight gain or act as a barrier to weight loss or maintenance in lesbians, a high-risk group for both CSA and obesity, is important for developing successful obesity interventions for this group of women.