VANCOUVER, B.C. – Losing a little weight can do wonders for your sex life.
So says Duke University psychologist Martin Binks, who presented a study Monday at a meeting of The Obesity Society showing that shedding a few pounds can improve things in the bedroom by making people feel better about their bodies.
“You reap a lot of benefit from a moderate weight loss of 10 percent,” Binks said. “It’s a wonderful message. You don’t have to reach some ideal weight to be healthy and happy.”
It is one of the few studies to examine the mental and emotional problems that obesity can cause for intimacy, not just the physical troubles such as hormone imbalances or impotence.
“There has not been a lot of research in this area,” said Dr. Susan Yanovski, director of obesity research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Improving your sex life “would be another good reason to lose weight if you’re obese.”
The study involved 161 women and 26 men, average age 45, with an average body mass index of 41. (A score of 30 or above on this height-and-weight formula is considered obese).
At the outset, 68 percent of women said they felt sexually unattractive. One year into the diet, only 26 percent did. About 63 percent originally did not want to be seen undressed, but only 34 percent felt that way a year later.
Initially, 21 percent of women said they were not enjoying sex; only 11 percent said so after one year.
The prospect of a better sex life could motivate some overweight people to shed pounds, said Dr. Ahmed Kissebah, an obesity expert at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and medical adviser to TOPS.
In overweight young women in particular, “We see some form of frigidity. They’re afraid of interacting” physically, Kissebah said.