Association of post-traumatic stress disorder and obesity in a nationally representative sample

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Jan;20(1):200-5. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.318. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Recent studies suggest a possible link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obesity risk, which would have implications for the development of obesity-related diseases in this population. The present study examined the association between PTSD and obesity and whether this association differed by sex in a representative sample of the US population. A secondary objective was to determine whether the association between PTSD and obesity was mediated by binge eating disorder (BED). Data were from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES), which comprises three nationally representative cross-sectional surveys that were conducted between 2001 and 2003. Logistic regression analyses weighted to represent the general US adult population were performed. In the total sample of 20,013 participants, rates of obesity were 24.1% for persons without a lifetime history of PTSD and 32.6% among persons with PTSD in the past year. Adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, depression, substance and alcohol abuse/dependence, and psychotropic medication status, past year PTSD was associated with greater likelihood of obesity (odds ratio (OR) = 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.18, 1.95), with no differences by gender. BED did not statistically mediate the relationship between PTSD and obesity. The present study provides support for a link between PTSD and obesity. Findings further existing literature by indicating that the association is consistent across sexes and is not statistically mediated by BED.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / etiology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology