Posted: September 24, 2015 Contributor: PRJKT RUBY

Study Finds Obese Teens Less Likely to Use Birth Control

The alarming results of a new study shows that sexually active obese teens are less likely to use birth control than their average weight peers.

The study consisted of nearly 900 women ages 18 and 19 in Michigan and was conducted to see if any patterns could be found that could be a driving factor behind the statistic that one in four women in the U.S. gets pregnant before the age of 20. While the rate of teen pregnancy has been slowing over the last few years, it is still one of the highest in the Western world according the to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obese teens in the study were as likely to be sexually active as their peers but were nearly 10% less likely to use contraception on a regular basis. For the purposes of the study, it wasn’t only birth control pills which were included it also branched out to the patch, NuvaRing, birth control shots, implants, condoms and the withdrawal method.

Of the obese teens, 68% reported consistent birth control use while 78% of average weight teens said they used birth control regularly. Additionally, a larger percentage of the obese teens reported using less effective methods of birth control like the withdrawal method rather than condoms or birth control pills.

So why the discrepancy?

There are many factors which could be coming into play here so it’s impossible to peg it down to just one. Researchers have theorized that there are other characteristics that are often shared among obese teens that may be playing into these statistics. For example, more than half of those in the study grew up in homes with public assistance and additionally 48% were from minority racial groups compared to the 36% percent of average weight teens.  It’s been noted that minority racial groups as well as lower income families often have less access to healthcare and engage in riskier behavior.

Other reasons for this may include lower self esteem and also a fear of gaining more weight (a possible side effect of the birth control pill).

Studies like these simply highlight the need for parents, doctors and other influences to have those critical conversations with teens, no matter what their weight.