Abstract: Title: Exploring Body Appreciation's Association with Halting Birth Control Use Due to Fear of Weight Gain (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

547P Title: Exploring Body Appreciation's Association with Halting Birth Control Use Due to Fear of Weight Gain

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Mackenzie Cook, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO
Virginia Ramseyer Winter, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Background:Birth control (e.g., hormonal pill) is highly successful at preventing pregnancy when used correctly and consistently. As such, birth control use is essential for reducing the rate of unplanned pregnancy in the US. However, several birth control methods can lead to some weight gain, which is negatively viewed in US culture. Since weight control is often related to body image, the current study aims to explore if body appreciation is related to a woman’s decision to stop taking her birth control out of fear of gaining weight.

Methods:Data for the project was from a larger study which focused on body image and sexual health among women. The sample was recruited using www.reddit.com(Reddit), which contains thousands of “subreddits,” topic specific bulletin boards in which members can post. The study advertisement was posted in subreddits related to women of color (e.g., /r/blackladies, asubreddit for Black women) to obtain a diverse sample of women.

Body appreciation, the independent variable, was measured using the Body Appreciation Scale-2 (BAS-2; Tylka and Wood-Barcalow, 2015). This 10-item scale includes statements such as, “I appreciate the unique characteristics of my body” and “I feel that my body has at least some good qualities.” Response options ranged from never (1) to always (5). The reliability for the scale among the study sample is estimated to be high (α = 0.92). Stopping birth control use due to fear of weight gain was measured using one item: “Have you ever stopped taking your birth control because you thought it was making you gain weight” (yes/no). We controlled for age, race, socioeconomic status, and body mass index (BMI).

Results:The mean age for the sample was 25.5 (SD=6.36) and the mean BMI reported was 25.9 (SD = 7.12). The sample was racially diverse with 28% identifying as White, 19% Black, 13% Latina, 23% Asian, and 17% Multiracial.

The logistic regression model was statistically significant (χ2 = 27.73, p= .006). Participants with higher body appreciation were less likely to stop taking birth control for fear of weight gain (OR= 0.56, p = .002). Also, those who identified as Black were 2.3 times more likely to stop taking birth control for fear of weight gain (OR = 2.27, p = .05), when compared to their White counterparts. There were no other significant results.

Implications:The findings suggest that there may be a correlation between body appreciation and halting birth control due to fear of weight gain. This is concerning because it can greatly increase a woman’s risk of experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Future studies should examine this relationship further to determine if it is specific to certain forms of birth control and/or if it could be related to the physicians’ interaction with the individual. Also, interventions for body image and female sexual health should incorporate these findings to better women’s health and sexual health outcomes once the study has been replicated.