Sexual Risk Behaviors during Adolescence: Associations with Childhood and Adolescent BMI

Abstract

Research examining associations between unhealthy weight and sexual risk behaviors derives primarily from cross-sectional studies conducted at varying ages during adolescence. The present study examined longitudinal associations between adolescent sexual risk behaviors and Body Mass Index (BMI), the latter measured prospectively from childhood through adolescence. Data were drawn from an 8095 individuals between the ages of 14 and 19 at last assessment, including 1768 Hispanic (52% female), 2659 non-Hispanic Black (Black; 50% female), and 3668 non-Hispanic, non-Black (predominantly White; 49% female). Childhood BMI predicted increased sexual risk-taking during adolescence for Black and White youth, and increases in BMI predicted increased sexual risk-taking for White females and Black males. The findings highlight differential patterns of association between BMI and sexual risk behaviors for Hispanic, Black, and White females and males with implications for prevention discussed.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Drs David Estell and David Lohrmann for their initial feedback on the study, as well as acknowledge the participants of the NLSY79.

Authors’ Contributions

J.D. developed the research questions and study design, wrote the initial draft of the manuscript, and conducted all analyses; L.R. advised on the analytic approach and provided feedback on the methods, results, and discussion; M.W. helped with study conceptualization, providing feedback on research questions, study design, and writing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets analyzed during the current study are publicly available and can be located at: https://www.bls.gov/nls/nlsy79.htm.

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Correspondence to Jennifer C. Duckworth.

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As confirmed with Indiana University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), IRB approval was not needed for this study because analyses were limited to secondary data which was publicly available and de-identified.

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Duckworth, J.C., Rutkowski, L. & Waldron, M. Sexual Risk Behaviors during Adolescence: Associations with Childhood and Adolescent BMI. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1433–1446 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01192-3

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