"This is one study that adds to a growing area of research that all has consistent findings that physical punishment is associated with negative mental and now physical (health) outcomes," said Tracie Afifi, who led the study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Last year, she and her colleagues published findings linking hitting and slapping in childhood to a higher risk of depression and anxiety later in life (see Reuters Health story of July 2, 2013 here: reut.rs/Mo1MXm.)
For the current report, they re-analyzed data collected in 2004 and 2005 by United States Census interviewers, who surveyed more than 34,000 adults across the country.
Participants were asked whether their parents or other adults at home pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit them for punishment as a child. They also reported their current health conditions.
About 1,300 people reported being physically punished at least "sometimes" without more extreme physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Compared to people who weren't punished physically as children, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.
Specifically, those participants were 25 percent more likely to have arthritis and 28 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease - though the second finding could have been due to chance, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.
More people who had been punished physically were obese: about 31 percent, versus 26 percent of those with no history of physical punishment.
Image: Angry parent and child, via Shutterstock