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Weight Misperception and Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors Among Sexual Minorities in the General Adolescent Population
  • Published Date:
    Oct 29 2013
  • Source:
    J Adolesc Health. 2013; 54(3):296-303.
Filetype[PDF-276.22 KB]

  • Pubmed ID:
  • Pubmed Central ID:
  • Description:

    Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth may experience significant body dissatisfaction. We examined sexual orientation differences in self-perceived weight status and prevalence of potentially dangerous weight control behaviors in a representative sample of adolescents.


    Data were obtained from 12,984 youth between 2003–2009 over four cycles of the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a statewide survey of 9th–12th grade students. Self-perceived weight status and past-month unhealthy weight control behaviors (fasting >24 hours, using diet pills, and vomiting/using laxatives) were compared among gay/lesbian, bisexual, self-identified heterosexual youth with same-sex partners, unsure youth, and exclusively heterosexual youth using logistic regression, adjusting for age and race/ethnicity.


    Compared to exclusively heterosexual males, heterosexual males with prior same-sex partners and bisexual males were more likely to self-perceive as overweight despite being of healthy weight/underweight (respectively, adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.68–4.05; and AOR, 2.56; 95% CI, 1.64–4.00). Compared to exclusively heterosexual females, lesbians and bisexual females were more likely to self-perceive as being of healthy weight/underweight despite being overweight/obese (respectively, AOR, 3.17; 95% CI, 1.15–8.71; and AOR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.20–3.33). Unhealthy weight control behaviors were significantly more prevalent among sexual minority males (32.5%; AOR, 4.38; 95% CI, 3.38–5.67) and females (34.7%; AOR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.85–2.78) when considered together relative to exclusively heterosexual males (9.7%) and females (18.8%).


    One-third of sexual minority youth engage in hazardous weight control behaviors. Future research should investigate underlying mechanisms and determine whether clinicians should routinely screen for these behaviors.

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  • Collection(s):
  • Funding:
    T71-MC00009/PHS HHS/United States
    HD066792/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    R01 HD066963/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    DA034753/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    K01 DA034753/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    U87 DP001251/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    DP001251/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    F32 HD066792/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
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