Teenage girls' weight affects sexual behavior

A new study has revealed that teenage girls' weight or perception of their weight might play a role in their participation in risky sexual behaviors.

The research team from University of Pittsburgh showed that those girls who were both sexually active and overweight, or who thought they were overweight, were less likely to use condoms than normal-weight sexually active girls.

Moreover, underweight girls were also less likely to use condoms.

"This study will contribute to sexual health education prevention efforts, which can be tailored to address how cultural norms regarding body size may influence adolescent sexual decision making," said lead researcher Dr Aletha Akers, M.P.H., assistant professor of gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Knowing how a girl perceives her weight may be just as important as knowing her actual weight," Akers added.

The study involving nearly 7,200 high school girls from 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey, half reported ever having sex suggested variability in the girls'' sexual activity and sexual risk-taking behavior based on their ethnicity and actual or perceived weight.

The study results are published in the journal Pediatrics.


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