Childhood adversity and women's cardiometabolic health in adulthood: Associations with health behaviors, psychological distress, mood symptoms, and personality

Lotte Van Dammen* (Corresponding Author), Nicole R. Bush, Susanne R. De Rooij, Ben Willem J. Mol, Henk Groen, Annemieke Hoek, Tessa J. Roseboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We tested whether childhood adversity is associated with poor cardiometabolic health in adulthood among a sample of overweight or obese Dutch women of reproductive age. Health behaviors, psychological distress, mood symptoms, or personality traits were included as potential mediators. Methods: Data came from a follow-up visit (N = 115), carried out in 2016/2017, of a randomized controlled lifestyle intervention trial in 577 obese infertile women. The associations between total adversity exposure score and cardiometabolic health were tested with regression models. Sleep, smoking and eating behavior, symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and personality traits were potential mediators. Results: Childhood adversity scores were not associated with cardiometabolic outcomes but were associated with poorer sleep quality score (M = 7.2 (SD = 3.5) for those with ≥2 types of events versus 4.8 (2.9) for those with no events; p = 0.022), higher external eating score (26.4 (8.7) versus 21.8 (10.3); p = 0.038), higher perceived stress score (17.1 (6.8) versus 12.3 (4.5); p = 0.016), post-traumatic stress score (1.9 (1.5) versus 0.6 (1.1); p < 0.001), and lower agreeableness score (28.2 (4.2) versus 30.3 (3.1); p = 0.035). Conclusion: Childhood adversity was associated with poorer health behaviors including sleep and eating behavior, and more stress-related symptoms, but not with women's cardiometabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank all women who participated in the LIFEstyle study and the follow-up visit. We thank all students, PhD students, research nurses, and other research personnel involved in the LIFEstyle study and follow-up visit.

This research was supported by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (50–50110–96-518), the Dutch Heart Foundation (Grant number: 2013 T085), and the European Commission (Horizon2020 project ‘DynaHealth’, 633595). The department of obstetrics and gynaecology from the UMCG received an unrestricted educational grant from Ferring Pharmaceutical BV the Netherlands, unrelated to the present study.

Data Availability Statement

A minimal dataset is available upon request.


  • Cardiometabolic health
  • Childhood adversity
  • Health behaviors
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Personality


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