Association of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Food Addiction to Bariatric Surgery Completion and Weight Loss Outcome

Allison A. Holgerson, Matthew M. Clark, Gretchen E. Ames, Maria L. Collazo-Clavell, Todd A. Kellogg, Karen M. Graszer, Sarah A. Kalsy, Karen Grothe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction/Purpose: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are known risk factors for obesity and poor outcomes following weight loss interventions. ACEs are also associated with addictive behaviors and, potentially, food addiction (FA). This study examined the relationship between ACEs and FA, and their association to undergoing bariatric surgery and post-surgical weight loss outcomes. Materials and Methods: Between June 2013 and January 2016, 1586 bariatric-surgery-seeking patients completed a psychological evaluation. During their evaluation, the patients were administered measures including the ACE questionnaire and the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Results: 19.2% of those seeking bariatric surgery reported being the victim of childhood sexual abuse, and 22.1% reported being the victim of childhood physical abuse. An elevated ACE score corresponded to increased likelihood of screening positive for FA and more severe FA. When the type of ACE was analyzed separately, ACE was not associated with bariatric surgery completion or percent total weight loss (%TWL). Screening positive for FA corresponded to less %TWL 1 year post-surgery as the total number of ACEs increased, yet there was no association with %TWL 2 years post-surgery. The participants were classified into two groups, those positive for an ACE or FA versus those negative for both. Those who screened positive were significantly less likely to undergo bariatric surgery. Conclusion: Screening positive for experiencing ACEs was related to severity of FA, and screening positive for being the victim of either childhood abuse or FA reduced the likelihood of completing bariatric surgery. More research is needed to determine how these psychosocial factors might influence bariatric surgery outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3386-3392
Number of pages7
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Food addiction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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