HealthDay News — Women with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to become overweight or obese, study findings indicate.

“The presence of PTSD symptoms should raise clinician concerns about physical health problems that may develop and prompt closer attention to weight status,” Laura D. Kubzansky, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

They used data from the subsample of 54,224 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II (aged 24 to 44 years in 1989) to examine whether women with PTSD symptoms were more likely to gain weight and become obese compared to trauma-exposed women without PTSD symptoms, or women without trauma exposure or PTSD symptoms.

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BMI increased more steeply during follow-up for women with at least four PTSD symptoms before cohort initiation (1989), the researchers found. BMI trajectory did not differ by PTSD status before PTSD onset among women who developed PTSD symptoms in 1989 or later.

Women with at least four PTSD symptoms had a more rapid rise in BMI after PTSD symptom onset. For women with a normal BMI in 1989, onset of at least four PTSD symptoms in 1989 or later correlated with a significantly increased risk of becoming overweight or obese (odds ratio, 1.36). After adjustment for depression, these effects were maintained.


  1. Kubzansky LJ et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2798.