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Prev Med. 2009 Apr;48(4):357-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Examining factors linked to overweight and obesity in women of different sexual orientations.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Crosstown Center-4th Floor Boston, MA 02118, USA. boehmer@bu.edu



Our goal was to examine possible mechanisms for the relationship of sexual minority status and obesity. The mechanisms we considered were energy intake, measured as consumption of fruits and vegetable, past diet attempts and energy expenditure measured as physical activity and number of days when poor physical or mental health interfered with usual activities. We hypothesized that women with a female partner have greater energy imbalance by expending less energy and have higher energy intake than women with a male partner thereby causing overweight and obesity.


The study was a secondary data analysis of the California Women's Health Survey (CWHS), an annual probability survey that produces a representative sample of the female California population. After pooling data from the years 2001-2005, we obtained a representative sample of 14,197 Californian women. Multiple regression analyses were used to test for mediation.


We found higher prevalence of overweight and obesity in sexual minority women. There was no support for mediation in that gender of sexual partner was not significantly related to measures of energy intake and expenditure.


The findings from the present study further implicate sexual minority status in the risk for overweight and obesity, yet do not identify the chosen measures of energy intake and expenditure as mediators for this relationship.

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