Metro Weekly

LGBTQ youth more likely to be obese, new study finds

Sexual and gender minorities are also at higher risk of developing eatings disorders, study finds

Measuring tape – Photo: Siora Photography, via Unsplash.

According to a new study from U.S.-based researchers, children that self-identify as part of the LGBTQ community, including those identifying as gay, bisexual, and transgender, are at a higher risk of obesity. 

In comparison to heterosexual children, sexual and gender minority children are 64 percent more likely to be obese. The same study found that this group of children are also 3.5 times as likely to suffer from a binge-eating disorder, according to research by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Maryland, reports the Daily Mail.

Researchers asked nearly 1,200 participants in the study questions such as “Are you gay or bisexual?” and “Are you transgender?” Respondents could answer “yes,” “maybe,” “no,” or “I do not understand.”

About 190 respondents, or 1.6% of the total, were classified as part of the “Sexual and Gender Minority” cohort. About one-quarter of those respondents answered “yes” and three-quarters answered “maybe.”

The study found no direct correlation between a person’s sexual minority status and eating disorders, although sexual minorities within the cohort were more likely to develop a binge-eating disorder.

According to the study, five of the 190 sexual and gender minority children, or 2.6% of the total number, experienced a binge-eating disorder, a higher percentage than the 129 of the 11,662 non-sexual minority children, or 1.1% who developed an eating disorder.

But researchers also acknowledged the possibility that their study had its own limitations, noting that most children do not have a fully developed sense of sexual orientation or gender identity at earlier ages, according to a write-up in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics on Dec. 28. They also acknowledge a larger sample of sexual minority youths may need to be drawn from before any conclusions can be reached.

Researchers also noted that race and socioeconomic status may play roles in a whether a person becomes obese. For example, children of color were twice as likely to be obese as white children, they noted. But finding out why will require additional research.

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