Obesity and sexual quality of life

Ronette L. Kolotkin, Martin Binks, Ross D. Crosby, Truls Østbye, Richard E. Gress, Ted D. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Objectives: 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. Research Methods and Procedures: 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. Results: 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. Discussion: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-479
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Impact of weight on quality of life
  • Quality of life
  • Sexual functioning
  • Sexual satisfaction


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