CHICAGO — Rates of obesity and inactivity are higher among LGB youth vs. their straight counterparts a new study has found, HealthDayNews reports.
Study author Lauren Beach, a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing said LGB youth suffer from worse mental and physical health.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 351,000 high school students in the United States and found that LGB female students were 1.6-2.1 times more likely to be obese than straight female students, HealthDay reports.
Compared to straight students, LGB students reported about one less day per week of physical activity, were 38-53 percent less likely to meet physical activity guidelines, and averaged 30 more minutes of sedentary activity each school day, HealthDay reports.
The study was published July 23 in the journal Pediatric Diabetes.
LGB youth may be less likely to be physically active due to stress, according to Beach.
“Many of these youth might be taking part in sedentary activities — like playing video games — to escape the daily stress tied to being (LGB),” she said in a Northwestern news release. “Our findings show that minority stress actually has a very broad-ranging and physical impact.”
Cultural and environmental factors may also play a role, HealthDay reports.
“Previous research has shown that body image and standards of beauty might be different among (LGB) compared to heterosexual populations,” Beach said, according to HealthDay. “We know very little about the physical environments of (LGB) youth. Are these youth less likely to live in areas that are safe for them to be active? We just don’t know.”
Teachers, parents and physicians should work together to ensure LGB youth stay healthy, Beach said. She noted that family support and identity affirmation, developing positive feelings and a strong attachment to a group, are associated with better health among LGB youth, HealthDay reports.