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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Mar;14(3):472-9.

Obesity and sexual quality of life.

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  • 1Obesity and Quality of Life Consulting; 1004 Norwood Avenue, Durham, NC 27707, USA.



Reduced sexual quality of life is a frequently reported yet rarely studied consequence of obesity. The objectives of this study were to 1) examine the prevalence of sexual quality-of-life difficulties in obese individuals and 2) investigate the association between sexual quality of life and BMI class, sex, and obesity treatment-seeking status.


Subjects consisted of 1) 500 participants in an intensive residential program for weight loss and lifestyle modification (BMI = 41.3 kg/m2), 2) 372 patients evaluated for gastric bypass surgery (BMI = 47.1 kg/m2), and 3) 286 obese control subjects not seeking weight loss treatment (BMI = 43.6 kg/m2). Participants completed the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite, a measure of weight-related quality of life. Responses to the four Sexual Life items (assessing enjoyment, desire, performance, and avoidance) were analyzed by BMI, sex, and group.


Higher BMI was associated with greater impairments in sexual quality of life. Obese women reported more impairment in sexual quality of life than obese men for three of four items. Gastric bypass surgery candidates reported more impairment in sexual quality of life than residential patients and controls for most items. In general, residential patients reported levels of impairment greater than or equal to controls.


Obesity is associated with lack of enjoyment of sexual activity, lack of sexual desire, difficulties with sexual performance, and avoidance of sexual encounters. Sexual quality of life is most impaired for women, individuals with Class III obesity, and patients seeking gastric bypass surgery.

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