Teen Sex, Binge Drinking, and Obesity

Economics is sometimes ridiculed as a science that uses complex math to argue the obvious. That complaint may be valid toward the following paper, but it’s still interesting (to me at least): in “Binge Drinking & Sex in High School” (abstract here; PDF here), Jeffrey S. DeSimone argues that “binge drinking significantly increases participation in sex, promiscuity, and the failure to use birth control, albeit by amounts considerably smaller than implied by merely conditioning on exogenous factors.” In a related essay about an earlier paper on binge drinking and risky sex among college students, DeSimone writes:

“I conclude that binge drinking does not make students become sexually active when they would not otherwise be, but does leads to some promiscuous sex that would not otherwise take place. This implies STD infection and unwanted pregnancy are potential external costs of binge drinking that could justify restrictive alcohol policies on college campuses.”

Meanwhile, Susan Averett, Hope Corman, and Nancy Reichman have a new paper (abstract here; PDF here) titled “Effects of Overweight on Risky Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Girls.” It finds that “overweight or obese teenage girls are more likely than their recommended-weight peers to engage in certain types of risky sexual behavior but not others.”

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  1. Lystraeus says:

    This research is incredibly important. When creating policy, authors now have hard evidence to point to rather than anecdote and extrapolation. Some intriguing findings were discovered (such as binge drinking not influencing initial sexual activeness).

    There is, of course, always the chance that recieved wisdom is wrong, especially in arenas with a paucity of data.

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  2. college bound says:

    Funny thing but I was thinking about this the other day and wondering. I have a high IQ but at school I get just average grades some Bs and Cs but mostly Dees Whereas my friend who has an IQ of 88 is getting As and A+s and having sex with cheerleaders all the time some fat but especially Lois who is really cute. I try hard at school to memorize stuff for tests and stuff but I’m not sure. Is drinking bad for me? Is IQ a measure of your intelligence right? Or is it? Im confused. Can you explain it? I know you’re smart so I hope this is the right forum to post this in.

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  3. RampantRedsFan says:

    I cannot access the paper, but I would be willing to call this a correlation than a causation.

    Many children are obese because of genetic factors, but others are obese because of environmental factors (lack of discipline taught in the home). I think that the environmental factors that lead to obeasity in these girls lead to risky sexual behavior.

    I apologize if this is what the paper argues.

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    • Jane Fader says:

      I’m glad that you wrote this comment, because I hadn’t considered it. However, the self-esteem issues caused by obesity (and perhaps also causing obesity) may also have a lot to do with why overweight girls will “do certain sexual acts but not others,” as sexual connections can be validating experiences. Those who need validation (lack self-esteem) are more likely to do undesirable acts to feel validated.

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  4. KAL says:

    I rather suspect that “Binge” drinking is a result of restrictive alcohol policies on Campus’ and in other areas of American Life.

    I suspect less restrictive policies, and more supervised access to alcohol (and other substances) would result in less abusive behaviors occuring when unsupervised access to these substances is obtained.

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  5. Justin James says:

    Wow. This is shocking news. Drinking leads to promiscuous sex. And all this time, I thought guys pumped women full of liquor at parties for the sake of making sure there wasn’t any booze left to have to put away. And overweight girls do things in the bedroom that the “recommend-weight” girls don’t? Again, this is something that’s been well known for a very long time. Plenty of movies have referenced it, for example. It’s well known in the boy’s locker room. I am so glad that someone took the time to research this. Maybe someone could research whether or not divorced women in their late 30′s are more sexually aggressive than their never-been-married younger counterparts.

    J.Ja

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  6. Cpt. Obvious says:

    In other news, the sun will rise in the east today.

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  7. Jim says:

    How do they define Binge drinking? If they use the clinical definition than you are looking at a sample of less than 1 in 100 of this age group. If they are using the term on how it is used in the media than that definition is almost meaningless as you can qualify as a binge drinker and never go over a .03 BAC

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  8. jh says:

    “Many children are obese because of genetic factors, but others are obese because of environmental factors (lack of discipline taught in the home). I think that the environmental factors that lead to obeasity in these girls lead to risky sexual behavior.”

    I think the conventional wisdom is that fat girls have to offer something a little extra to attract guys. It’s probably not limited to weight, though. It’s really just an ugliness factor. But, weight data is easier to gather than hotness.

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