Weight Status and Sexual Development from Adolescence to Young Adulthood

Yen-hsin Alice Cheng, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This study aims to understand the sexual development of youth by weight status from adolescence to young adulthood. It utilized the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data. This study first asked whether adolescents of different weight statuses have different timing of sex debut. The results showed that underweight and overweight youth experience significantly later first sex than normal weight teens. Social relationships are key explaining factors for why weight status delays sex debut. When developmental stages were considered, the status of underweight only delays sex debut in the younger teen ages, not in the older teen ages. The development and predictors of sexual relationship trajectories were also examined. Four distinct sexual trajectories were identified. Overweight adolescents are less likely to have a trajectory involving any level of sexual activity than to have the never-had-sex trajectory. These inverse associations are once again explained by adolescents’ social relationship characteristics.

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Presented in Poster Session 7