Objective: To evaluate the association between obesity and history of childhood trauma in an effort to define implications for the provider-patient relationship and possible causes of failure of obesity treatment. Methods: Multisite survey developed by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Learning Health Systems Obesity Cohort Workgroup consisting of 49 questions with 2 questions focusing on history of being a victim of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse was mailed to 19,964 overweight or obese patients. Data collection for this survey occurred from October 27, 2017, through March 1, 2018. Results: Among the 2211 surveys included in analysis, respondents reporting being a victim of childhood abuse increased significantly with obesity (23.6%, 26.0%, 29.1%, and 36.8% for overweight, class I, class II, and class III obesity, respectively; P<.001). A higher percentage of those who reported being a victim of childhood abuse noted that their weight issues began at an earlier age (P=.002) and were more likely to have weight-related comorbidities (P<.001), even after controlling for body mass index. Impacting physician counseling on weight loss, patients who were childhood victims of abuse reported lower self-esteem (P<.001), were more likely to feel judged by their health care providers (P=.009), and less likely to feel being treated with respect (P=.045). Conclusion: Overall, being a victim of childhood abuse was significantly associated with obesity, lower self-esteem and negative experiences interacting with health care providers. Health care providers should receive training to ensure open and nonjudgmental visits with obese patients and consider the role of trauma survivorship issues in patients’ development of obesity and health care experiences.
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