Lesbians twice as likely to be obese

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LESBIANS are twice as likely as heterosexual women to be overweight or obese, which puts them at greater risk for obesity-related health problems and death, US researchers said.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, is one of the first large studies to look at obesity among lesbians.

Ulrike Boehmer of the Boston University School of Public Health and colleagues looked at a 2002 national survey of almost 6000 women, and found that lesbians were 2.69 times more likely to be overweight and 2.47 times more likely to be obese.

“Lesbians have more than twice the odds of (being) overweight,” the authors wrote.

This would put them at a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease, among other ailments.

“Our findings indicate that lesbian sexual identity is linked to a greater prevalence of overweight and obesity,” the authors wrote in the study, released this week.

They reviewed smaller studies that have suggested a higher prevalence of obesity among lesbians and the possible reasons why.

“The results of these studies indicate that lesbian women have a better body image than do heterosexual women,” they wrote.

But the authors said they placed little confidence in the idea that lesbians were more muscular than straight women, and thus were more likely to have a high body mass index, or BMI, while having little body fat.

High muscle mass is “unlikely to lead to classification as obese,” the researchers said.

“We reported greater odds of both overweight and obesity in lesbians and we feel confident in asserting that these differences are a result of increased adiposity,” the researchers wrote.

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