Arthritis, Obesity Risks Pronounced In People Abused As Children
July 15, 2013

Arthritis, Obesity Risks Pronounced In People Abused As Children

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Children who experience harsh physical punishment may be put at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics that children who were punished physically were 24 percent more likely to be obese and 35 percent more likely to have arthritis as an adult. They also found that children disciplined with physical punishment were significantly more likely to have cardiovascular disease.

The authors collected data through the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions for 2004 to 2005. They studied the effects of physical punishment on eight long-term health risks in a sample of 34,226 US adults. Participants in the study were considered to have received physical punishment as a child if they responded with "sometimes or greater" to a question on how often they were pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit by an adult.

The study assessed eight physical conditions and looked at whether participants were afflicted by arteriosclerosis or hypertension, hepatic disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, arthritis, and obesity in the past year.

Lead researcher Tracie Afifi, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said the findings add to evidence that physical punishment can harm kids.

"Kids need discipline," Afifi told HealthDay. "But it shouldn't involve physical force."

An accompanying editorial published alongside the study criticized the findings, saying that the authors' conclusions were lacking, particularly in their use of "harsh physical punishment" as the target in the association.

Rachel Berger, MD, of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Adam Zolotor, MD, of the the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said the study should have included non-harsh physical punishment in its measures. They said that physical punishment that does not reach the level of being considered harsh is likely the most common type of discipline.

Numerous studies in the past have found that spanking a child can lead to psychological problems later on, such as aggression or anxiety. One study in 2009 even found that children who were spanked had lower IQs four years later than those not spanked. Researchers from this study found that children ages two to four who were not spanked had IQs five points higher four years later than the IQs of those who were spanked. Children between the ages five and nine scored 2.8 points higher on IQ tests four years later, according to the study.

A C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health found in 2010 that more parents are opting to talk with misbehaving children rather than spank them. This survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 parents choose to discuss and reason with their misbehaving child.