September 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Millions spent on lesbian obesity study draws criticism
lesbian obesity, gay news, Washington Blade

The study of lesbian obesity has grabbed the attention of budget watchers.

WASHINGTON — A report from the Free Beacon on lesbian obesity for which the National Institutes of Health received nearly $3 million in federal funding to study, has caused controversy, the Dallas Voice, the Washington Post and other media outlets have reported.

The NIH study, now in its fourth year, received an additional $670,567 this year to determine why “nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians are overweight or obese” and why gay men are not.

The study, which is being led by S. Bryn Austin, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, operates on the premise that there is a “striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities.”

The researchers have been busier since last year, when the project had yielded only one paper. Those results concluded that gay and bisexual males had a “greater desire for toned muscles” than straight men, the Beacon reports.

The project now claims that lesbians have lower “athletic self-esteem” that may lead to higher rates of obesity. Another research paper found that lesbians are more likely to see themselves at a healthy weight, even though they are not, the Beacon article notes.

Their research found that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and “mostly heterosexual” adolescents exercise one to two hours less a week compared to heterosexuals. The paper also said sexual minorities are 46 to 76 percent less likely to be on a sports team, due to “gender nonconformity and athletic self-esteem.”

The sexual orientation and obesity study is slated to last until 2016. The latest grant comes receiving $682,873 last year, $778,622 in 2011, and $741,378 in 2012. The total for the project thus far is $2,873,440, the Beacon reports.

The study of lesbian obesity has grabbed the attention of budget watchers, wrote Josh Hicks in a Washington Post op-ed.

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