(HealthDay News) – Women with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to become overweight or obese, according to a study published online Nov. 20 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Laura D. Kubzansky, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from the subsample of the Nurses’ Health Study II (54,224 participants aged 24–44 years in 1989) to examine whether women with PTSD symptoms were more likely to gain weight and become obese compared to trauma-exposed women without PTSD symptoms or women without trauma exposure or PTSD symptoms.

The researchers found that body mass index (BMI) increased more steeply during follow-up for women with ≥4 PTSD symptoms before cohort initiation (1989). BMI trajectory did not differ by PTSD status before onset of PTSD among women who developed PTSD symptoms in 1989 or later. Women with ≥4 PTSD symptoms had a faster rise in BMI after PTSD symptom onset. For women with a normal BMI in 1989, onset of ≥4 PTSD symptoms in 1989 or later correlated with a significantly increased risk of becoming overweight or obese (odds ratio, 1.36). After adjustment for depression, these effects were maintained.

“The presence of PTSD symptoms should raise clinician concerns about physical health problems that may develop and prompt closer attention to weight status,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)