Sexual orientation disparities in BMI among US adolescents and young adults in three race/ethnicity groups

  • Katz-Wise S
  • Blood E
  • Milliren C
 et al. 
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Abstract

Obesity is a key public health issue for US youth. Previous research with primarily white samples of youth has indicated that sexual minority females have higher body mass index (BMI) and sexual minority males have lower BMI than their same-gender heterosexual counterparts, with sexual orientation differences in males increasing across adolescence. This research explored whether gender and sexual orientation differences in BMI exist in nonwhite racial/ethnic groups. Using data from Waves I-IV (1995-2009) of the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 13,306, ages 11-34 years), we examined associations between sexual orientation and BMI (kg/m2) over time, using longitudinal linear regression models, stratified by gender and race/ethnicity. Data were analyzed in 2013. Among males, heterosexual individuals showed greater one-year BMI gains than gay males across all race/ethnicity groups. Among females, white and Latina bisexual individuals had higher BMI than same-race/ethnicity heterosexual individuals regardless of age; there were no sexual orientation differences in black/African Americans. Sexual orientation disparities in BMI are a public health concern across race/ethnicity groups. Interventions addressing unhealthy weight gain in youth must be relevant for all sexual orientations and race/ethnicities.

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