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Tuesday, 12 August 2014 14:30

Study: Obesity and Quality of Sexual Life

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Now that obesity is recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease, we can begin to look at the problem in depth without the past stigma.

We know obesity can cause serious health problem like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. And that obesity hurts productivity in the workplace. But how does it affect our sex lives?

Dr. Farooq Ahmad of California Medical Weight Management writes:

It is a common observation that men start developing abdominal obesity (protuberant belly) after middle age. This effect is the result of decreasing testosterone levels in the body. This is the beginning of a problem. The sequence of subsequent events goes somewhat like this: low testosterone levels cause central obesity and central obesity gives rise to different components of metabolic syndrome. This should make it easy to understand how low levels of testosterone can cause metabolic syndrome.

CMWM Head Nutritionist Elaine Murphy (BA, CNC) writes:

Women in general seem to be more stigmatized by self-esteem when it comes to their weight issues and feeling sexually appealing. Society influences this because it favors youth and beauty, and of course having a thin body. Being overweight may compound the self-esteem problem as a woman ages.

These opinions are supported by a 2006 Duke University study titled, "Obesity and sexual quality of life" which examined quality-of-life issues among 1500 obese individuals. Individuals responded to 31 questions about how obesity affects the quality of their lives. Questions about sexual life covered four areas:

  1. Assessing enjoyment
  2. Desire
  3. Performance
  4. Avoidance

The study found that obesity is associated with greater impairments in sexual quality of life. Obese women reported more impairment in three of the four areas. Over half of obese women reported they sometimes, usually or always do not enjoy sexual activity because of their weight. The study concluded that, "obese persons have a negative body image. Thus, the combination of social stigmatization/prejudice and a negative body image may present social and psychological barriers to having sexual needs met."

Full text of the study is available for download at Wiley online.

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