Background Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with many childhood diseases and poor health outcomes in adulthood. However, the association with childhood obesity is inconsistent. We investigated the association between reported cumulative ACE score and body mass index (BMI) in a large sample of patients at a single institution. Methods This cross-sectional study included children aged 2-20 years that were screened in a general pediatrics clinic for ACEs utilizing the Center for Youth Wellness ACEs questionnaire between July 2017 and July 2018. Overall ACE score was categorized as 'no exposure' (score = 0), 'low exposure' (score = 1), and 'high exposure' (score≥ 2). BMI was categorized as overweight/obese (BMI percentile ≥ 85) or non-obese (BMI percentile < 85). The association between ACEs score and obesity was determined using univariate and multivariable logistic regression. Results Of the 948 patients included in the study, 30% (n = 314) were overweight/obese and 53% (n = 504) had no ACE exposure, 19% (n = 179) had low ACE exposure, and 28% (n = 265) had high ACE exposure. High ACE exposure was associated with increased odds of obesity (OR = 1.47, 95%CI = 1.07-2.03, p = 0.026). However, after adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, insurance type, and birth weight, the association attenuated and was null (OR = 1.01, 95% CI = 0.70-1.46, p = 0.97). Conclusion The study findings may suggest an association between ACE and childhood obesity. However, the association attenuated after adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, insurance type, and birth weight. Larger prospective studies are warranted to better understand the association.
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