Such events may also enhance cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer and contribute to spiralling healthcare costs.
The study, presented in the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017 in California, stated that the women who have gone through four or more negative life events had a 36 per cent higher risk of obesity, in comparison to women who reported no such events.
"Little is known about how negative and traumatic life events affect obesity in women. We know that stress affects behaviour, including whether people under- or overeat, as well as neuro-hormonal activity by in part increasing cortisol production, which is related to weight gain," said Michelle A. Albert, Professor at the University of California in San Francisco.
"This is important work because women are living longer and are more at risk for chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease," said Michelle.
The researchers studied the relationship between major life events and obesity in a group of 21,904 middle-aged and older women.
They measured the impacts of two types of stress: traumatic events, which could occur anytime in a woman's life and include such things as death of a child or being a victim of a serious physical attack, as well as negative life events that had occurred in the previous five years of a woman's life, like wanting employment but being unemployed for longer than three months or being burglarised.
The results found that the higher the number of negative life events, the higher the tendency for increased odds of obesity.