Weight-related issues and high-risk sexual behaviors among college students

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54 Scopus citations


Individuals with high body mass index (BMI), negative body image, and unhealthy weight control behaviors may be more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors than others. Researchers have not fully investigated these relationships in a sample of college students. The authors collected data regarding several weight-related issues and high-risk sexual behaviors (response rate = 39%) from 1,168 college students. Over half reported at least 1 high-risk sexual behavior. After the authors controlled for several demographic characteristics, they found that higher BMIs were associated with increased odds of having a casual sexual partner (odds ratio [OR] = 2.70) and being intoxicated at last intercourse (OR = 2.25). Among women, unhealthy weight control behaviors were associated with having a casual partner (OR = 2.12), using no or unreliable contraception (OR = 1.98), and being intoxicated at last intercourse (OR = 2.31). Weight-related issues were not associated with sexual behaviors among college men. The authors describe their findings within two health behavior frameworks, and they discuss implications for research and health education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Grant MCJ-270834 (D. Neumark-Sztainer, principal investigator) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services; and Grant U48/CCU513331 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (M. Resnick, principal investigator). All human subjects consented to participation, and the University of Minnesota’s Institutional Review Board approved this study (HSC#0012S75881) on December 11, 2000. The authors thank Dr. Edward Ehlinger and Boynton Health Service for making the data for this project available.


  • Body image
  • College health
  • Sexual behavior
  • Unhealthy weight control


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