Dr Felitti launched a major and detailed study to find out what role – if any – traumatic childhood events played in obesity.
It became known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Survey.
They questioned 17,000 people in San Diego – mostly middle class and professional – to find out if they had gone through any of ten traumatic experiences that can happen to a child – from neglect to violence to rape.
They then followed them to see if they suffered any other problems later in life.
At the same time as they looked to see if there was any correlation with obesity they also included other factors – like drug addiction.
What they discovered seemed at first to be an error.
‘A person who experienced any six or more of the categories’ of childhood trauma – Dr Felitti tells me [was 4600 percent more likely to become an IV [injecting] drug user later in life than a person who experienced none of them’. (2)
He adds: ‘I remember the epidemologists at the CDC told me those were numbers a magnitude of which they see once in a career.
You read the latest cancer scare of the week in the newspaper and something causes an increase of 30 percent in breast or prostate cancer and everybody goes nuts – and here we’re talking 4600 percent’.