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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Obesity as a Risk Factor for Early Sexual Debut in Young Adolescent Girls?

The topic of obesity in relation to adolescent girls and sexual activity first arose during a patient encounter of an obese 13-year-old girl, who was asking for birth control pills.  The family physician I was following, mentioned that recently, in the past few years, she has noticed that her overweight and obese adolescent female patients are having sex much more than her normal weight patients.  She prompted me to read an interesting article on the topic on Medscape Medical News, which is summarized below:
“In a recent study presented at the 58th Annual Clinical Meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists by Villers, et al, showed that overweight and obese adolescent girls are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than their normal-weight peers.  The researchers evaluated data from the CDC’s Youth and Behavior Survey from 2003-2007 of 21,773 girls in grades 9-12.  The BMI was calculated using self-reported height and weight.  The study analyzed 6 different risky sexual behaviors such as whether or not the teens had sexual intercourse age at first sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, condom use, and alcohol/drug use during their last sexual intercourse.  The results revealed that obese and overweight girls were more likely to have an earlier age of sexual debut, more sex partners, and were less likely to use condoms than their normal weight counterparts.”
During the women health discussion of the topic at DUCOM, it was noted that the study did not account for history of abuse, socioeconomic factors, and other factors such as self-esteem and depression.  Another interesting point is that obese and overweight girls reach puberty earlier than their normal weight counterparts.  More research needs to be done on why overweight and obese adolescent girls are more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviors than those are normal weight.  Childhood and adolescent obesity is a risk factor for many things from health related ailments to psychosocial limitations, and this recent survey adds to the list of the harmful effects of obesity.

-- Mimi Mak MS IV, adapted from Obesity a Factor in High-Risk Sexual Behavior in Adolescent GirlsMedscape Medical News , 2010-05-28


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