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Am J Public Health. 2015 Jan;105(1):111-121.

Disparities in Weight and Weight Behaviors by Sexual Orientation in College Students.

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Melissa N. Laska, Nicole A. VanKim, Darin J. Erickson, and B. R. Simon Rosser are with the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Katherine Lust is with Boynton Health Service, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Marla E. Eisenberg is with the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.



We assessed disparities in weight and weight-related behaviors among college students by sexual orientation and gender.


We performed cross-sectional analyses of pooled annual data (2007-2011; nā€‰=ā€‰33ā€‰907) from students participating in a Minnesota state-based survey of 40 two- and four-year colleges and universities. Sexual orientation included heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, unsure, and discordant heterosexual (heterosexuals engaging in same-sex sexual experiences). Dependent variables included weight status (derived from self-reported weight and height), diet (fruits, vegetables, soda, fast food, restaurant meals, breakfast), physical activity, screen time, unhealthy weight control, and body satisfaction.


Bisexual and lesbian women were more likely to be obese than heterosexual and discordant heterosexual women. Bisexual women were at high risk for unhealthy weight, diet, physical activity, and weight control behaviors. Gay and bisexual men exhibited poor activity patterns, though gay men consumed significantly less regular soda (and significantly more diet soda) than heterosexual men.


We observed disparities in weight-, diet-, and physical activity-related factors across sexual orientation among college youths. Additional research is needed to better understand these disparities and the most appropriate intervention strategies to address them.

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