Health News: American researchers launched a community-based population health study titled Healthy Nevada Project to understand the link between genetics, disease, and social health determinants like childhood trauma. The results are now published in Frontiers in Genetics.
The researchers at the Healthy Nevada Project asked over 16,000 participants to answer a mental health survey, containing questions about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), genetic makeup, and clinical Body Mass Index (BMI) measures.
In the survey, about 65% of the participants reported at least one experience of ACEs, by the age of 18 years. By cross-referencing this data with their genetics and weight measures, the researchers inferred that people with more types or instances of ACEs are more likely to become severely obese as adults.
The results also reveal that experiences of childhood trauma interact with genes and cause a genetic mutation that can lead to severe disorders like schizophrenia.
Inferring An Overlooked ‘Link’
The project looks beyond the common perception that genetics cause diseases and considers environmental factors and life experiences that interact with genetics and impact child and adult health.
The researchers explain that children and adolescents who experience childhood trauma, poverty, food insecurity, etc. often take to unhealthy lifestyles that increase obesity risk like stress-eating. Lifestyle affects health and genetics, because of which such obese youngsters are more likely to become obese adults with multiple health risks like cardiovascular diseases (CVD), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and infertility.
Making Way For New Interventions
The study, in the words of one of the lead researchers, Joseph Grzymski, “emphasizes how important it is for population genetic studies to consider the impact of social determinants on health outcomes.”
Understanding the link between childhood trauma, genetics, and obesity can help create simple screenings for ACEs and early clinical interventions that consider a patient’s both genetic and social histories. This can help medical practitioners and caregivers develop individualized treatment plans that result in better patient health. Raising awareness about obesity can help people adopt healthier lifestyles and control chronic diseases and improve general public health.
To Know More You May Relate To
Schlauch, Karen & Read, Robert & Neveux, Iva & Lipp, Bruce & Slonim, Anthony & Grzymski, Joseph. (2022). The Impact of ACEs on BMI: An Investigation of the Genotype-Environment Effects of BMI. Frontiers in Genetics. 13. 816660. 10.3389/fgene.2022.816660.