American childhood obesity has soared in the past 30 years, and that's bad for people's sex lives—particularly women's, according to a new book. In XL Love, health-policy journalist Sarah Varney talks to experts about how obesity affects females as girls and adults, the New York Post reports. First off, obesity is causing children to reach puberty faster (five years faster than 100 years ago, the Telegraph reports) and girls who experience early puberty are more likely to experience a host of problems, from depression to substance abuse to "riskier sexual adventures," writes Varney. That also makes them more prone to teen pregnancy and STDs.
What's more, obese teen girls are likely to either avoid romantic relationships or accept more advances for fear that few will come along. The latter girls are "three times as likely as healthy-weight girls to have had sex by the age of 13," said a South Carolina assistant professor in a 2010 study. It's not much better for overweight boys, however, 80% of whom become overweight in adulthood and find their penis actually shrinking an inch for every 50 pounds of extra weight (because the organ is attached to the abdominal wall). "There are plenty of reasons for America to lose weight," notes the Post, but Varney's book "shows us one of the saddest."