A new research reveals that women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to develop food addiction.
Scientists suggest PTSD is a psychiatric disorder, which can develop when a person witnesses a life-threating event or trauma such as war, sexual abuse, serious accident and more. Emergency workers and veterans of war are highly likely to develop PTSD. About 7 to 8 percent of Americans suffer from PTSD at some point in their life and around 5.2 million adults experience PTSD each year in the U.S.
Latest study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, reveals that women who show severe symptoms of PTSD are two times more likely to meet the criteria for food addiction.
Susan Mason, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, who is also the lead author of the study, revealed that they examined over 49,000 women for the study. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire, which also asked about lifetime symptoms associated with PTSD and linked them with the existence of food addiction. The researchers suggest that women who reported more PTSD symptoms were more likely to have food addiction when measured via the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which assess dependency on food.
The researchers suggest that more than 50 percent of the participants were exposed to some type of trauma and about 66 percent women, who experienced trauma, reported to have at least one lifetime PTSD symptom. Around 8 percent of these women also reported to have between 6 and 7 PTSD symptoms, which was the maximum on the questionnaire they had filled. About 8 percent of the total participants were believed to have food addiction.
"This prevalence ranged from 6 percent among women with no trauma and no PTSD symptoms to nearly 18 percent among women with trauma and 6-7 PTSD symptoms," per the study.
The research also highlighted that women who came across severe PTSD symptoms before the age of 10 years were expected to meet food addiction criteria 3.7 times more when compared to women who did not show any PTSD symptoms.
The study authors also suggest that women with no PTSD symptoms did not meet the criteria for food addiction, even though they had some type of trauma at some point in their life.
Mason suggests that food addiction can also lead to obesity, which is a major health issue faced by healthcare professionals in the U.S. However, more research is needed to establish a link between PTSD and obesity.
The study has been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.