Exploring the Occurrence of Adverse Childhood Experiences across BMI and Race Ethnicity Categories

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Adverse childhood experiences are a critical public health issue throughout the United States. Adverse childhood experiences are traumatic events that may include abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction that affect children and adolescents ages 0-17. Adverse childhood experiences can create negative effects on our overall health and have been linked to obesity. Obesity is a worldwide issue that affects nearly 340 children, and of those children, 22% represent Hispanic and Latino youth. Children who are exposed to high levels of stress and dysfunctional, toxic family environments can cultivate unhealthy eating habits and increase their risk for obesity. This study examines the relationship between adverse childhood experiences on childhood obesity among Hispanic and Latino Children. Secondary data from the 2019-2020 National Survey of Children's Health was used in this study. Using the data from the National Survey of Children's Health, a significant difference was found among the mean scores of the self-reported occurrences of adverse childhood experiences for Hispanic and Latino children compared with all other non-Hispanic and Latino children in the sample; meaning Latino children experience a higher frequency of adverse childhood experiences. In this study, an additional statistically significant difference in the occurrence of adverse childhood experience across weight/BMI categories were found. The self-reported occurrences of adverse childhood experiences who were obese were significantly higher than those children who were underweight and normal weight. This study demonstrates the effects of adverse childhood experiences not only emotionally but physically. As research continues, a more comprehensive list of adverse childhood experiences can be created to understand the impact of health and risk for obesity in children throughout the United States. It is important that our children develop resilience-building strategies when faced with adversity and trauma throughout the course of their life.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health