Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Background Sexual behavior (SB) is a well-documented pathway to HIV acquisition in emerging adults and remains common amongst African emerging adults. Previous research in high-income countries indicates a correlation between disordered eating behavior (DEB) and engaging in sexual behaviors. We aimed to describe the relationship between DEB and SB amongst emerging adults attending a tertiary educational institution at the Kenyan Coast.

Methods We applied a cross-sectional design nested in a young adults’ cohort study. Eligibility included sexually active emerging adults aged 18–24 years. Three DEBs (emotional, restrained and external eating) were assessed using the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire and analysed using exploratory factor analysis. Seven SB indicators were assessed: non-condom use, casual sex, multiple sex partners, transactional sex, group sex, age-disparate relationship and anal sex, and grouped into low vs. high SB using latent class analysis. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between DEB and SB.

Results Of 273 eligible participants (female, n = 110 [40.3%]), the mean of emotional, restrained and external eating was 1.9 [0.6], 2.0 [0.6] and 3.0 [0.5] respectively. Overall, 57 (20.9%) were grouped into the latent high SB class. Emotional (Adjusted odds ratio, AOR [95% confidence interval, CI]: 1.0 [0.9–1.0], p = 0.398), restrained (AOR, 1.0 [CI: 0.9–1.1], p = 0.301) and External (AOR, 1.0 [CI: 0.8–1.2], p = 0.523) eating were not independently associated with latent high SB.

Conclusion There was no significant association between DEB and SB in this study sample. In low- and middle-income countries like Kenya, interventions targeted at DEB among emerging adults towards controlling SB are unnecessary.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.