Differences in romantic relationship satisfaction among normal weight, overweight, and obese women


Steinway, Caren; Garcia-Espana, Felipe; Webb, David; Harding, Jennifer; Culhane, Jennifer; Hipwell, Alison E.; & Akers, Aletha Y. (2016). Differences in romantic relationship satisfaction among normal weight, overweight, and obese women. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Background: Obese adolescent and young adult women report high levels of social exclusion and sexual risk taking, suggesting poor relationship functioning. We explored whether obesity is associated with lower romantic relationship satisfaction in early adulthood. Methods: Using Add Health Wave IV data, a 7-item outcome variable assessed satisfaction with the current or last romantic partner. Satisfaction was categorized as low, medium or high. Our predictor, self-reported weight at Wave IV, was categorized as normal, overweight, or obese using CDC guidelines. Using multivariable multinomial logistic regression, we calculated the odds of low satisfaction. Demographic (age, race, education, income), relationship characteristics (relationship type, relationship duration, number of lifetime sex partners), peer skills (number of close friends), depression, personality (extraversion, agreeableness, anger-hostility) and measures of stress were covariates. Results: 36% of the sample was obese, 69% White, 19% African-American (AA); 52% married; mean age of 28.2. In unadjusted analyses, obese women reported lower relationship satisfaction than normal weight women [OR=0.74; 0.61-0.90]. In multivariable analyses, the association was non-significant [OR=1.07; 0.86-1.33]. Race and income appeared to drive the initial association with African American women and lower income women who were less satisfied in their relationships. Conclusions: Race and income are important drivers of relationship satisfaction for young women. We are currently assessing if weight trajectories during the adolescent to adult transition predict relationship satisfaction.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


Steinway, Caren
Garcia-Espana, Felipe
Webb, David
Harding, Jennifer
Culhane, Jennifer
Hipwell, Alison E.
Akers, Aletha Y.

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID