A teenage girl's weight, or perception of her weight, may affect her odds of risky sexual behavior, a new study suggests.
The study, of nearly 7,200 U.S. high school girls, found that in general, sexually active girls who were underweight were less likely than their normal-weight peers to use condoms. The same was true of girls who viewed themselves as overweight — accurately or not — when compared with girls who perceived themselves as normal-weight.
The findings, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics, "add to a growing body of literature that girls at the weight extremes may be at increased risk for engaging in sexual risk-taking behaviors."
Exactly why this is the case is not fully clear.
Overall, half of the girls said they had ever had sex, and actual body weight showed no influence over those odds.
Perceptions did seem to matter, however. Girls who saw themselves as overweight, however, were about 20 percent less likely to say they were sexually active. At the same time, though, when these girls were sexually active, they were more likely than their peers to have started having sex before age 13.
Across the study group, the only time actual weight was related to sexual behavior was in the case of underweight girls — who were 60 percent less likely than their normal-weight peers to have used a condom the last time they had sex.
Source: Fox News