There appears to be a difference in contraception use among female adolescents based on weight, as new research appearing in the Journal of Pediatrics found that sexually active obese adolescents were significantly less likely to use contraception compared to their normal weight peers.

In the study, Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS, of the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues analyzed population-based longitudinal data from 26,545 journal surveys from 900 women aged 18–19 to assess the link between weight and sexual behaviors. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated with a standard equation using respondents’ self-reported height and weight, and the proportion of weeks that contraception was used consistently was determined in weeks that any contraception was used.

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There was no difference in reported sexual intercourse based on weight status, but obese adolescents had a lower proportion of weeks where any contraception was used vs. normal weight adolescents (84% vs. 91%; P=0.011). During weeks in which adolescents reported sexual activity and contraceptive use, obese adolescents reported a lower proportion of weeks with consistent contraceptive use (68% vs. 78%, P=0.016) and oral contraceptive pill use (27% vs. 45%, P=0.001) compared to normal weight adolescents.

Potential barriers to contraception use among obese female adolescents may include individual, clinician, and population-level factors such as lower self-esteem, the authors concluded.

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