STRESS & HEALTH MANUSCRIPT DATASET AND OUTPUT
The relationship between adverse life experiences and obesity has been established, but supporting mechanisms are ill-defined. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a heterogeneous disorder that appears to be associated with scores on the Yale Food Addiction Scale, but little is known regarding how PTSD symptoms, or specific adverse experiences, impact food addiction (FA) scores and obesity. The goals of this paper were to determine whether specific adverse life experiences are more associated with FA scores than others, to extend the previous literature by examining the mediating impact that FA and PTSD have on the association between adverse life experiences and obesity, and to assess potential sex differences in these interrelationships. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 included a targeted community sample of female participants (N = 215) who were recruited from private online support groups. Study 2 participants were male and female college students from a southern U.S. university (N = 392). Results indicated that childhood adversity, PTSD and FA work together to predict obesity. These relationships vary depending on whether participants were from a more targeted sample (study 1) or a college aged sample (study 2). Further, adverse experiences occurring in childhood were the strongest predictors of FA in both studies, with sexual assault during childhood being the strongest predictor of FA for females, and witnessing family violence being the strongest predictor for males. The results of this study have implications for the treatment of PTSD, obesity, and disordered eating.