Traumatic events during childhood reportedly can put young women on track to gain weight as they get older.
According to the Daily Mail, a new study conducted at Michigan State University found that women who endured family-related tragedies or serious issues at the ages of 16 or younger were more likely to gain weight later in life compared to those spared from such experiences.
Researchers examined responses from 2,259 women and 1,358 men to a national survey.
Participants were interviewed four times in 15 years. Sources of stress in their childhoods could include divorce, financial trouble or a parent with mental illness.
The team discovered that women who dealt with more childhood hardships were more likely to gain weight as they aged. This phenomenon was even more common than women putting on weight caused by stressors they encountered as adults.
Surprisingly, the stressful events experienced by men -- both while young and older -- played no significant roles in their weight gains.
The researchers noted that it's likely that women to turn to food in times of stress, and men in similar situations would turn to alcohol for comfort.
There is also a greater probability more women than men will become depressed after childhood: another cause of overeating and weight gain.
Hui Liu, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University, said that women form habits in adolescence that impact their weight gains throughout their lives.
She believes these findings prove how vital it is to cleanse children of excess stress.
Given the importance of body mass on health and disability, it's important that we consider the sex-specific social contexts of early childhood in order to design effective clinical programs that prevent or treat obesity later in life.