Title

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Obesity in Adult Women: Exploring the Mitigating Mechanisms

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2012

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Ande Nesmith

Abstract

A substantial amount of research has been dedicated to investigating the potential relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and subsequent obesity in adulthood among female survivors. While a significant body of literature supports this association, identifying prospective causes, confounding factors, or mitigating elements, has not been fully solidified and requires further research. Qualitative interviews with clinicians working within an eating disorder treatment center were conducted to gather data regarding professional opinions of such a relationship. Utilizing content analysis, the data was coded and materializing themes identified. Significant similarities between existing literature and the present research findings emerged, including recognition of the long-term emotional and physical implications of CSA, emotional-behavioral influences as mitigating mechanisms, and the importance of a multi-faceted approach to treating those presenting with CSA and eating disorders. Further, the present research emphasized certain therapeutic qualities essential to providing the best course of treatment for women presenting with each of these long-term health sequelae. Notably absent, however, was widespread awareness of biological mechanisms as potential mitigating factors. Such research findings support the need for further study to elucidate the causal mechanisms between childhood sexual abuse and subsequent obesity, as well as highlight the need to increase awareness and understanding of this relationship to improve treatment approaches and outcomes.

Keywords

childhood sexual abuse, obesity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.