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Am J Public Health. 2014 Jan;104(1):103-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301391. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

Weight status and sexual orientation: differences by age and within racial and ethnic subgroups.

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Nicholas P. Deputy and Ulrike Boehmer are with the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA.



We determined differences in weight at age 18 years and at current age and weight change by sexual orientation within different racial/ethnic populations, stratifying by gender.


We used 2001-2007 data from the California Health Interview Survey, resulting in an unweighted sample of 120,274 individuals aged 18 to 74 years. Using regression models, we examined overweight status and change in weight by sexual orientation, stratifying by race/ethnicity and gender.


Compared with heterosexual women of the same race/ethnicity, White and African American lesbians and bisexuals had increased likelihood of being overweight at age 18 years and maintaining overweight status during adulthood. Sexual minority status was unrelated to weight among Latinas and inconsistently linked to weight among Asian women compared with heterosexual women of the same race/ethnicity. Sexual minority status was protective against unhealthy weight among White, African American, Asian, and Latino men compared with heterosexual counterparts of the same race/ethnicity. This protective effect was seen after age 18 years except among African American bisexual men.


Our findings indicate a need for age- and culture-sensitive interventions that reduce weight or prevent weight gain in sexual minority women and men.

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