Obesity Myth #7: Sex Helps Burn Calories

Continuing in this series of obesity myths in the New England Journal of Medicine paper, I am not even sure why the authors thought this myth important enough to include.

Frankly, I was not even aware that this “myth” existed – perhaps, because even the premise of this myth seems so ridiculous.

According to the authors, Obesity Myth #7 states that,

“A bout of sexual activity burns 100 to 300 kcal for each person involved.”

Anyone, who has ever tried burning 300 calories on a treadmill will realise that sexual activity (at least for most people) comes nowhere close to that kind of exertion.

Or, as the authors put it,

“…a man weighing 154 lb (70 kg) would, at 3 METs, expend approximately 3.5 kcal per minute (210 kcal per hour) during a stimulation and orgasm session.”


“Given that the average bout of sexual activity lasts about 6 minutes, a man in his early-to-mid 30s might expend approximately 21 kcal during sexual intercourse.”

This, the authors calculate, is only about 14 Cal more than he would have spent watching 6 mins of TV.

Or, approximately the number of calories you’d get by biting into an apple – go figure!

I wonder what dispelling this myth does for tackling the obesity problem – except perhaps to illustrate the point that we generally overestimate the calories burnt with physical activity.

Edmonton, AB