Obesity: The Ultimate Erotic Turn-off

By now everyone must surely know that obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes and premature death. But how many realise that it’s also a major cause of sexual dysfunction? That intimate secret tends to be hidden behind closed doors. Fat people may go to their doctors and complain about their breathlessness, depression or sleeping problems, but few will admit that their sexual get-up-and-go has got-up-and gone. This disability they keep to themselves, and often refuse to acknowledge. Yet recent research has shown the frequency of this unfortunate side effect. A team of behavioural scientists at Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center, examined 1,210 people from the environs of Durham, North Carolina, and found that fully half of those seeking treatment for obesity said they sometimes, usually or always felt no desire for sex. This complaint was experienced twenty-five times less frequently by their slimmer counterparts.  In publishing these findings, Martin Binks, the leader of the team, said that sexual difficulties among the obese are ‘a more common problem than one would expect, and they deserve treatment.’ It’s amazing that these problems are being overlooked in an age of high-tech medicine, because they were recognised well over two thousand years ago by Aristotle, the Greek scientist and philosopher, who wrote that men who put on weight ‘emit less seed and have less desire for sexual indulgence.’

Throughout time, obese people have found that their bloated shape can hamper copulation. This applied to about forty per cent of the obese people taking part in the Duke University study, whereas only 2.5 per cent of their slim cohorts reported any similar difficulties, whatever their age, suppleness and fitness levels. Most modern sex shops sell wall charts depicting over a hundred different coital positions. These visual aids should carry a government health and safety warning, for most middle aged people would slip a disc if they tried to implement them. They’re suitable for contortionists and adagio dancers, but certainly not for anyone who’s overweight, and can’t even adopt the standard, missionary position. It’s very rare for a roly-poly to seek medical help to overcome this embarrassing problem, but when they do, what advice can their doctors offer?  Voltaire, the eighteenth century French philosopher, had a friend who developed such an enormous belly that it was some years since he’d seen his genitals, let alone found a way of making love. Since he was anxious to carry out his marital duties, he sought his doctor’s counsel, who told him to perform the act while standing up, with his wife resting supine on a bed. So where there’s a will, a way can invariably be found to circumvent these physical difficulties. But the same can’t be said for some of the other sexual problems which obesity provokes.

Martin Binks felt that one of the major dilemmas his Californian fatties faced was a lack of self-esteem. People are not so desirable when they’re fat and flabby. This was somewhat blatantly expressed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said: ‘how can a husband be turned on if his wife is sitting like a slug stuffing herself with pastries?’ This drawback is clearly shown in the wording of the lonely hearts advertisements, where men have to emphasise their height and women their slimness. Some overweight ladies have tried to skirt round this issue by describing their bodies as voluptuous, curvaceous or cuddly, but their would-be mates invariably see through this ploy and read these terms as synonyms for ‘fat’. That’s why so many ads end with the request: ‘Photograph required’. One university graduate inserted an ad listing all her many attributes, but mentioning that she was a size 18. She got a measly five replies. So the next time she placed the identical advertisement but left out the reference to her size. This time 37 men replied requesting a meeting, which suggests that excess bulk is counter attractive.

People who spend their lives sitting idly in a chair soon find that they have little energy or enthusiasm for amorous activities. However attractive a woman may be, she’ll always find it difficult to combine the roles of couch potato and sex kitten. This was the dilemma faced by Madame de Pompadour, the favourite mistress of Louis XV of France. She was pretty, witty and wise, but according to her maid she was ‘excessively cold in matters of physical love.’ Fearing that she might lose the king’s affection, she tried taking an aphrodisiac drink – but this brought her out in a rash. She then experimented with a ‘heating’ diet rich in peppers and spices. This did less to rouse her passion than to inflame her stomach and give her the burps. In desperation she consulted her personal physician who told her to follow a healthier life style: ‘to be in good health, to digest well and, for that purpose, to take exercise’. The remedy obviously worked, because a short time afterwards she was able to confide to her maid: ‘Our master is better pleased with me.’  Recent studies, carried out by researchers at the Gavin Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, have shown that the output of sex hormones is increased under the stimulus of even modest levels of exercise. This was demonstrated when a group of non-athletic male and female students were tested, and it was found that their blood

levels of testosterone – the sex hormone associated with an elevation of sexual libido – were raised by pedalling on a static bicycle, reaching a peak when they cycled briskly for twenty minutes. Similar effects were found following a study of 1700 Americans, which revealed that 28 per cent of people who took up some form of sporting activity noted an increase in their level of sexual activity. The more active and outward going you are, the livelier you’ll be in the bedroom. That was the discovery of Professor Hans Eysench, the world famous research psychologist, who found that extroverts make love two or three times more often than introverts.

These responses create a vicious circle, for the less you do, the more you’ll put on weight. And the more pounds you amass. the less you’ll want to do. Sexual activity in particular may suffer a marked decline. When Ursula Andress, the 1960s film star and sex symbol, was asked how she managed to keep her sylphlike figure, she replied: ‘Loving keeps me slim.’ This was more than an idle boast, because metabolic studies show that the average act of intercourse uses up to hundred calories, which is the equivalent of about half an hour’s jogging. Do this three times a week and you stand to lose nearly ten pounds of surplus weight a year. Some dairy farmers have made practical use of this biological fact. They’ve fitted their cows with plastic vaginal inserts which curb their sexual activity. This simple intervention has increased their weight gains by just over a quarter. However, if you chose to retain your excess weight, and are content with platonic relationships, you can always console yourself with the thought that the one good thing about a middle aged spread is that it brings couples closer together.


Hundreds of scientific papers are now being published every year about the causes and cures of obesity. This worldwide plague is now the world’s number one cause of chronic illness and premature death. You can learn the secrets of healthy, life time weight control by following the practical tips extracted from this on-going research and posted regularly on this site. If you would like to receive this information directly, please send your eMail address to mail@donaldnorfolk.co.uk You have our assurance that this service will be offered without any commercial advertising or sponsorship, and that your email address will be treated in absolute confidence and not disclosed to any third parties.

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