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Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):e16-22. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301150. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Eating disorder symptoms and obesity at the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in US high school students.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



We examined purging for weight control, diet pill use, and obesity across sexual orientation identity and ethnicity groups.


Anonymous survey data were analyzed from 24 591 high school students of diverse ethnicities in the federal Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System Survey in 2005 and 2007. Self-reported data were gathered on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation identity, height, weight, and purging and diet pill use in the past 30 days. We used multivariable logistic regression to estimate odds of purging, diet pill use, and obesity associated with sexual orientation identity in gender-stratified models and examined for the presence of interactions between ethnicity and sexual orientation.


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) identity was associated with substantially elevated odds of purging and diet pill use in both girls and boys (odds ratios [OR] range = 1.9-6.8). Bisexual girls and boys were also at elevated odds of obesity compared to same-gender heterosexuals (OR = 2.3 and 2.1, respectively).


Interventions to reduce eating disorders and obesity that are appropriate for LGB youths of diverse ethnicities are urgently needed.

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