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Body Mass Index and Sexual Behavior

Kaneshiro, Bliss MD1; Jensen, Jeffrey T. MD, MPH2,5; Carlson, Nichole E. PhD4; Harvey, S Marie PhD5; Nichols, Mark D. MD2; Edelman, Alison B. MD, MPH2

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31818425ec
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the relationship between body mass index and sexual behavior, including sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, ever having had sex with a male partner, number of partners, and frequency of intercourse.

METHODS: This study employed the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, a cross-sectional, nationally representative database in which women between the ages of 15 years and 44 years were surveyed regarding reproductive health outcomes. Sexual behavior was compared between body mass index groups—normal (less than 25 m/kg2), overweight (25–30 m/kg2), and obese (greater than 30 m/kg2)—using self-reported height and weight. Multiple logistic regression with adjustment for the sampling design was used to measure associations of interest.

RESULTS: Body mass index was not significantly associated with sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, frequency of heterosexual intercourse, and the number of lifetime or current male partners. Overweight women and obese women were more likely to report ever having male sexual intercourse (P<.001). This difference persisted when we adjusted for age as well as type of residence.

CONCLUSION: With the exception of ever engaging in sexual intercourse with a man, sexual behavior differs little between women of different body mass indices.


There seems to be no relationship between body mass index and sexual behavior among the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth female participants.

From the 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii; 2Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and 3Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; 4Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado; and 5Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 56th Annual Clinical Meeting on May 5, 2008 as an oral abstract.

Corresponding author: Bliss Kaneshiro, 1319 Punahou Street #824, Honolulu, HI 96817; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure Dr. Jensen has received research funding from Bayer (Wayne, NJ), Organon (Roseland, NJ), Galen (Craigavon, UK), Symbollon (Framingham, MA), Wyeth (Madison, NJ), Pfizer (New York, NY), and Novartis (Basel, Switzerland). He has served on the speakers bureau for Bayer and Wyeth. He also has been a consultant to Bayer, Wyeth, and Novartis. The other authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2008 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.