- Understand how child abuse negatively affects both mental and physical health later in life.
- Learn more about the correlation between childhood sexual abuse and obesity. In addition, describe how being obese may be a “solution” for those who have been sexually abused.
- Be able to explain the ACE study and its groundbreaking results.
- Understand the importance of addressing these topics and why health providers should engage in discussions about abuse with their adult patients.
This show explores the correlation between childhood adverse events and negative long-term effects on both physical and mental health. We begin with a discussion of the link between child abuse and obesity, which was brought to light through the work of Dr. Vincent Felitti, Founder of the Department of Preventive Medicine for Kaiser Permanente, and Robert Anda of the CDC. In addition, he discusses his research on the lasting impact of other forms of child abuse, the results of which were published in the groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study of over 17,000 adults. ACEs refer to different forms of abuse that individuals might be exposed to in childhood. Dr. Felitti describes how they came to understand the relationship between child abuse and long-term health, what mechanisms underlie this connection, and what it means for practitioners seeing these patients as adults.
- Did the results of the ACE study shock you? Why or why not?
- Does the discussion of how prior sexual abuse is related to obesity change the way you think about your obese patients/clients?
- One of the major findings of the ACE study was that asking about prior abuse is, in itself, beneficial and even reduces future doctor’s visits. How could you envision addressing these topics in your clinical practice?
- Dr. Felitti has said that ACEs are the “main determinant of the health and social well-being of the nation.” Do you agree?
Links to additional resources:
Centers for Disease Control
CDC on the ACE study and findings
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA page on how ACEs are a significant risk factor for substance use disorders and can impact prevention efforts
American Academy of Pediatrics
AAP resource about ACEs related to trauma
ACEs Too High
News website dedicated to raising awareness about ACEs and reporting most recent research
CDC list of relevant journal articles
Journal articles about ACEs and the ACE Study by topic