Adverse Childhood Experiences and Weight Status among Adolescents

Laurel Davis, Andrew J. Barnes, Amy C. Gross, Justin R. Ryder, Rebecca J. Shlafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and weight status among adolescents. Study design: Data were drawn from the Minnesota Student Survey, a large (n = 105 759), statewide, anonymous survey of public school students in eighth, ninth, and eleventh grades. Self-reported height and weight were used to calculate body mass index. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine associations between self-reported ACEs and weight status, controlling for key sociodemographic characteristics. Results: ACEs were positively associated with weight status; adolescents with more ACEs were more likely to have overweight, obesity, and severe obesity than adolescents with no ACEs. Adolescents who reported an ACE were 1.2, 1.4, and 1.5 times as likely to have overweight, obesity, and severe obesity, respectively, compared with their peers with no ACEs. There was no relationship between ACEs and underweight. Conclusions: The results of this large sample of adolescents with anonymous data support the hypothesis that ACEs and obesity are strongly associated. The directionality of this relationship needs to be understood. Moreover, these findings suggest that child health professionals may need to screen for ACEs as an important aspect of clinical weight management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • adverse childhood experiences
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • severe obesity


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