Study: LGB Youth More Likely to Be Obese, at Risk for Diabetes

A person stands on a scale

LGB and questioning youth are at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity than heterosexual youth, according to a Northwestern Medicine study.

LGBQ youth are also less physically active and more sedentary, as a result of "minority stress." These young people are at heightened risk of both mental and physical health problems, said Lauren Beach, lead study author and postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing.

"Many of these youth might be taking part in sedentary activities – like playing video games – to escape the daily stress tied to being lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning," Beach said in a press release. "Our findings show that minority stress actually has a very broad-ranging and physical impact."

The study, which surveyed 350,673 American students ages 14 to 18, found that LGBQ youth were 38 to 53 percent less likely to meet physical activity guidelines. Bisexual and questioning students spent at least 30 minutes more per school day doing sedentary activities than heterosexual students. LGBQ high school girls also had increased likelihood of obesity compared to straight high school-age girls.

Beach said little is known about the physical environments of LGBQ students, but LGBQ students who receive familial support and whose identities are affirmed tend to experience better health than those who lack such support.

A separate study by the University of Connecticut and the Human Rights Campaign showed that LGBT students are less likely to play sports, and those who do tend to remain in the closet due to fear of homophobia and transphobia from coaches and teammates.

Tags: Youth, Health

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