Research consistently links the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including exposure to maltreatment and household dysfunction, to increased risk of an array of adverse health and social outcomes. New Zealand (NZ) has a high prevalence of ACEs; half of the adult population reported at least one ACE and 20% reported at least three. Māori and Pacific children and those living in more deprived areas are disproportionately adversely affected. However, limited research exists about ACEs and the role of resiliency factors such as Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) in mitigating social and health risks in the NZ context. This information is required to guide development of ACE-informed services addressing the effects of early adversity.
By drawing on GUiNZ datasets and the expertise of our collaborators, we will:
a) Develop ACEs and PCEs indexes
b) Describe the distribution of ACEs and PCEs among NZ school-aged children and across ethnic and socioeconomic sub-populations
c) Explore the individual, clustering, and cumulative effects of ACEs on body size trajectories and the development of obesity
d) Explore the potential for PCEs to protect against and offset effects of ACEs manifesting as unhealthy weight.
This research will support the Government’s commitment to reducing child health inequities and provide evidence for policy development to lift child wellbeing. At the individual and whānau level, this research will inform social and community services of the impact of positive and adverse childhood experiences, and work to support safe and nurturing family environments for all New Zealand children.