The relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and obesity is well documented in neurotypical community samples. Yet considerably less is known about this relationship in developmental disorder and detained populations, which are both in themselves predictors for obesity. The current paper explored the relationship between ACEs and Body Mass Index (BMI) in a detained adolescent developmental disorder population. A retrospective file review of routinely collected data for adolescents detained in a specialist developmental disorder service was conducted. Data was collated for a convenience sample of 34 adolescents, aged 10-17 (M=15.06 years). Results revealed a high prevalence of exposure to ACEs (M=4.53, SD= 3.17) and obesity (41.2%). There was a strong positive association between number of ACEs and BMI. Those exposed to emotional and physical neglect, parental substance use or parental mental illness were at particular risk for obesity. A dose-response effect was also apparent; the odds of being above a healthy weight were two and five times higher for those with four or more and six or more ACEs, respectively. An ordinal logistic regression also revealed that risk for obesity increased with exposure to ACEs. Length of admission was not associated with BMI. The extensive prevalence of trauma exposure and obesity in this population highlights the importance of prioritizing holistic trauma-informed care models that give parity of esteem to physical and mental health needs.
Key words: Childhood adversity, BMI, developmental-disorder, adolescent, secure service.
Vol. 1, Issue 2, 2020