EFFECTS OF OVERWEIGHT ON RISKY SEXUAL BEHAVIOR OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS

Authors

  • SUSAN AVERETT,

    1. Averett: Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Business, Lafayette College, 102 Simon Center, Easton, PA 18042. Phone 1-610-330-5307, Fax 1-610-330-5715, E-mail averetts@lafayette.edu
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  • HOPE CORMAN,

    1. Corman: Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. Phone 1-609-895-5559, Fax 1-609-896-5387, E-mail corman@rider.edu
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  • NANCY E. REICHMAN

    1. Reichman: Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ; Visiting Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Phone 1-732-235-7977, E-mail reichman@princeton.edu
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    • We are grateful to Asia Sikora and Julien Teitler for helpful comments and Oliver Joszt for excellent research assistance. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for their assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


Abstract

We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to estimate effects of adolescent girls' overweight on their propensity to engage in risky sexual behavior. We estimate single equation, two-stage, and sibling fixed-effects models. We consider both absolute weight and weight relative to other girls in the individual's school. We focus on vaginal intercourse without a condom, any type of sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol, and anal intercourse. Our findings confirm previous research indicating that overweight or obese girls are less likely than their recommended-weight counterparts to be sexually active. As a result, they are less likely to have vaginal intercourse without a condom. However, overweight or obese girls are not less likely to have sex under the influence of alcohol, and once they have had vaginal intercourse, their consistency of condom use is no different from that of their recommended-weight peers. The most striking finding is that overweight or obese girls are at least 15% more likely than their recommended-weight peers to have ever had anal intercourse regardless of whether they have ever had vaginal sexual intercourse. The results from this study underscore the importance of using multifaceted and contemporary measures of risky sexual behavior and have implications for the health and well-being of adolescent girls. (JEL I12, J13)

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