As if surviving a stressful event wasn’t challenging enough, recent research indicates these incidents may even cause your waist to become wider, especially among females. Teen girls tend to react to emotional trauma more than boys do, and they also tend to internalize stress. That is, they tend to turn their negative emotions inward which can result in depression, low self-esteem, and unfortunately weight gain.

First, let’s define trauma. Trauma happens when someone experiences a single incident or a string of emotionally upsetting or life-threatening events that have a lasting negative impact on their functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.

Among the experiences that could be traumatic are:

  • Abuse of the body or emotions
  • childhood abuse
  • being the victim of bullying or teasing, in real life (at school for example) or online
  • living with a family member who has a substance use or mental health disorder
  • Separation from a loved one that is sudden and unexplained
  • Community violence, hostilities, or acts of terrorism

Despite the fact that trauma can happen to anyone at any time, it has particularly negative long-term impacts on children’s growing brains. Exposure to these situations frequently referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), is typical in all spheres of society. Treatment professionals currently refer to major named traumas such as school shootings “Big T Trauma” and more common, ongoing events like being bullied at school “Little T trauma.”

The Research

In one study, data on over 22,000 middle-aged and older women were examined by researchers. The objective is to evaluate the association between obesity and adverse events, such as long-term unemployment or burglary, as well as traumatic events, such as the death of a child or becoming the victim of a violent physical attack.

The results of the study showed that those who reported more than one stressful life event were 11% more likely to be obese than those who did not record any traumatic events. About 23% of the study’s female participants were obese.

In another study, researchers found that women who experienced traumatic events in their lifetime or negative life events over the past 5 years were more likely to become obese, compared with women who had not experienced such events.

Women who had at least four bad life experiences in the previous five years were 36 percent more likely to develop obesity than women who had no negative life events. The likelihood of obesity increases with the number of bad life experiences.

The Method of Action

So how does trauma cause weight gain specifically? Although the biochemical mechanism is unknown, scientists have made a few assumptions.

The overactivation of stress hormones is one way. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system, each of which is involved in controlling a wide range of bodily processes, including metabolism, may experience alterations in function as a result of trauma.

Another way to deal with stress is by engaging in undesirable behavior patterns. Current studies are examining whether trauma affects women’s preferences for processed foods and their chances of exercising. This is one area where a camp experience at Camp Pocono Trails can really help. By fully emerging in a healthy environment, we can reset your daily routine and create new, fun, stimulating healthy habits.

Finding the source of the issue is the first step in permanently losing weight and putting a stop to emotional eating. And that source could be inside suffering. Emotional freedom and a slimmer physique are achievable if that pain has been recognized and treated. Therefore, another area where a camp experience can be beneficial is participation in our Self-Esteem Groups. During group, campers build insight into false negative perceptions and learn practical skills to improve their happiness. Additionally, the positive peer influence at Camp Pocono Trails might be just the thing to reset those negative assumptions.

The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Weight Loss

The truth is that self-esteem and weight are intimately related. Think about these instances:

Eating and Emotions – Instead of striking the appropriate balance, we’re more inclined to overeat or undereat when we feel horrible about ourselves. Both can result in poor health and interfere with your attempts to lose weight.

Energy Maintenance – We need the energy to exercise in addition to using it to get through our regular lives. Self-esteem issues frequently result in a loss of energy, which lowers our levels of physical activity and makes exercise seem insurmountable.

Self-Doubt – When things don’t go your way, you could be more tempted to blame yourself if you’re struggling with poor self-esteem. For instance, you might believe that you are to blame if you “fall up” on your healthy eating plan or don’t meet your weight goals quickly enough. Simply said, this is untrue.

Future Achievements – Do you know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is? What you think is true can actually come to pass. You have a lower chance of finding the success you’re hoping for if you tell yourself you’re not likely to achieve your weight-management goals.

The relationship between trauma and weight gain is an excellent example of why weight loss can be a complex issue. It’s not as simple as just telling a child to “eat less and exercise.” People are generally far more complex than those simple answers would suggest.

Give us a call today at Camp Pocono Trails to discuss your child’s weight loss issues and how we can help. You can reach us at 1-800-365-0556.