Being obese can influence someone in their sexual life in significant ways.

Being overweight or obese has influence on the sexuality of people in various different aspects. It can include negative aspects such as stigmatization which can be an obstacle for romantic developments, sexual dysfunction and an increased chance of risky sexual behavior. It can also have positive aspects in the form of fat fetishism.


See also: Epidemiology of obesity

The number of people with obesity has greatly increased in recent decades.[1]

Childhood and puberty

Childhood obesity is correlated to early puberty. Girls who go through puberty earlier are more likely to be sexually active than other girls of the same age and are more likely to become pregnant and contract STDs. In their teen years, increased weight can also lead to obstacles for romantic developments. A 2005 study showed that "a teenage girl’s odds for a romantic relationship… dropped 6 to 7 percent for every 1-point increase in her body mass index."[2] Gay, bisexual and transgender children are more likely to be obese, according to a 2020 study. The root cause for this is unknown.[3][4]


Main article: Social stigma of obesity

Being obese or overweight is stigmatized. In 2007, Substantia Jones started The Adipositivity Project, which is an annual nude photography series depicting fat couples in a positive way to reduce the stigma.[5][6]

Dating and relationships

For many, the stigma in dating remains even after having lost weight, also due to fear of gaining weight again. According to psychology professor David Sarwer, the prevailing belief is that people who have never been obese are better able to control their weight.[7][8] Sex educator Laura Delarato noted that there is fetishization of fat bodies.[9] Some dating sites exclusively for fat people have been made.[10] BMI is highly correlated between romantic partners.[11]

Sexual health and satisfaction

An increased body weight can lead to an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin, which causes testosterone to fail. That can cause the libido to decrease. It can also narrow down the blood vessels, which makes it harder to climax. Sex positions tend to be more limited.[12]


In men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.[12]


Women in class 3 obesity experience the most impairment in sexual quality of life, with an overall lack of enjoyment of sexual activity.[12] In women, it generally leads to low self-esteem and negative self image.

Fat fetishism

Many anthropologists believe the Venus of Willendorf may have been used to represent a fertility goddess.

Main article: Fat fetishism

Fat fetishism (and "feederism") has been described as a sexual subculture,[13] sexual fetish and a lifestyle.[14]

Hanne Blank has written:

"Feederism is a red herring, it creates alarm and controversy that derails more meaningful discourse about fat sexuality. All of fat people’s sexuality gets lost in the shadow of the mainstream media’s voyeuristic fixation on what is portrayed as a freak show."[13]

Some people consider feederism to be a part of BDSM, because food is used as a means of control because the feeder decides what the feedee eats and how much their body changes.[13] Some fat people do happily engage in the fetishism and find fulfillment in it. Many have felt fetishism thrust on them without consent. Aubrey Gordon has rejected the notion that fat attraction is necessarily a fetish.[15] Feederism has been depicted in films like Feed and City Island, where the first was not consensual but the latter was.[16]

Pornography and sex work

Web queries on Internet pornography websites for 'fat' outpaced 'skinny'.[15] As a 33 stone woman, Amanda Faye has been able to make a living out of eating for the camera.[17]


Leblouh is the practice of force-feeding women.


  1. ^ "Obesity and overweight". World Health Organization.
  2. ^ Getlen, Larry (2014-08-02). "How the obesity epidemic is ruining America's sex life". New York Post. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  3. ^ Scher, Avichai. "Lesbian and bisexual women more at risk for obesity, study finds". NBC News. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  4. ^ Semlyen, J; Curtis, T J; Varney, J (2019-02-21). "Sexual orientation identity in relation to unhealthy body mass index: individual participant data meta-analysis of 93 429 individuals from 12 UK health surveys". Journal of Public Health. 42: 98–106. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdy224. ISSN 1741-3842. PMC 8414914. PMID 30786282.
  5. ^ MacMillen, Hayley (2017-02-13). "These Gorgeous Nude Photos of Fat Couples Are Shattering Stereotypes (NSFW)". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  6. ^ Richards, Amanda (Oct 30, 2015). "The 2016 Adipositivity Project Calendar Celebrates Unapologetic Fatness — PHOTOS". Bustle. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  7. ^ Varney, Sarah (2014-10-09). "Dating While Formerly Obese". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  8. ^ Fee, Holly R.; Nusbaumer, Michael R. (2012). "Social Distance and the Formerly Obese: Does the Stigma of Obesity Linger?*". Sociological Inquiry. 82 (3): 356–377. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682X.2012.00420.x. ISSN 1475-682X.
  9. ^ Russo, Maria Del. "5 Stories Of What It's Like To Date As A Plus-Size Woman". refinery29. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  10. ^ Humphries, Stephen (2016-01-22). "New dating app 'WooPlus' aims to be Tinder for plus-size people". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  11. ^ The, Natalie S.; Gordon-Larsen, Penny (2009). "Entry Into Romantic Partnership Is Associated With Obesity". Obesity. 17 (7): 1441–1447. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.97. ISSN 1930-739X. PMC 2745942. PMID 19360012.
  12. ^ a b c Katz, Anne (October 2017). "Obesity and Sexual Dysfunction". American Journal of Nursing. 117 (10): 45–50. doi:10.1097/01.naj.0000525873.36360.5a. ISSN 0002-936X. PMID 28957928. S2CID 43780839.
  13. ^ a b c Weisman, Carrie (2017-03-27). "The men who like to make their women large and getting larger". Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  14. ^ Bering, Jesse. "How might female butterflies gain an advantage? How about having the ability to taste through their feet". Scientific American. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  15. ^ a b Gordon, Aubrey (2021-02-17). "Such a pretty face". Vox. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  16. ^ "Fat Fetishism and Feederism on Film" (PDF). Journal of Literature, Cultural Studies and Linguistics: 124–136.
  17. ^ Gladwell, Hattie (2019-02-08). "Woman has thousands of fans who pay to watch her eat 10,000 calories a day". Metro. Retrieved 2021-09-28.

Further reading