Peterson, Eric

Committee Member

Welsh, Marilyn

Committee Member

Phillips, Kristina

Committee Member

Stellino, Megan


Educational Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



218 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Child maltreatment is highly associated with physical health problems throughout the lifespan (Schafer, Morton, & Ferraro, 2014; Springer, Sheridan, Kuo, & Carnes, 2007). Yet much is still unknown regarding the trajectory of health problems including the onset of health risk indicators in emerging adulthood. Emerging adulthood also represents a unique timeframe with little demand for healthy behaviors. There is evidence that child maltreatment increases the involvement in health-risk behaviors such as substance use, risky sex, and binge eating (Downey, Gudmunson, Pang, & Lee, 2017; Röhr et al., 2015). The primary purpose of the current study was to examine if emerging adults who self-report higher levels of child maltreatment (CM) exhibit poorer physical health outcomes. These health outcomes included heart rate, obesity level, blood pressure, blood sugar, waist circumference, symptoms of illness, and perceived health. The second aim of this research was to explore the role that Physical Activity (PA) and health risk behaviors have in the trajectory of child maltreatment and poor adult health. Emerging adults in college (N=100) completed a physical health assessment, selfreported measures of health, health risk behaviors, and child maltreatment, and wore an accelerometer for 10 days to track PA. Results of this study revealed that child maltreatment scores predicted higher resting heart rate and increased symptoms of illness. Additionally, females with maltreatment history presented higher levels of obesity and higher Metabolic Syndrome conditions than their peers. When examining moderators of CTQ and health outcomes, PA moderated both resting heart rate and symptoms of illness while binge eating behavior moderated symptoms of illness. Results support the importance of learning more regarding the trajectory of child maltreatment to chronic disease as health risk indicators are present in emerging adults. Furthermore, results provide examples of health behaviors that may alter the effects of child maltreatment on current health. These include sedentary behavior and binge eating behavior exacerbating poor health symptoms, low intensity PA improving health symptoms, and higher levels of overall PA protecting resting heart rate.


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