Gay men face increased health risk from being underweight
Males who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex have a variety of distinct health needs. New research has found that gay and bisexual men may be more likely to have an unhealthy body mass index (BMI), compared with heterosexual men.
Having an unhealthy body mass index (BMI) is a risk for various health conditions with the risk of having an unhealthy BMI shaped by different social factors. New research suggests that sexual identity is one of the social factors that can influence our BMI.
The research showed that while lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to be overweight or obese compared with heterosexual women, gay men were less likely to be overweight or obese compared with heterosexual men.
However, men who identified as gay, bisexual or “other”, were more likely to be underweight. Being underweight can be a health risk and is linked to osteoporosis, a weakened immune system and a reduced life expectancy.
What the researchers say: The Conversation
We know that sexual minority groups are more likely to be exposed to increased stress because of the discrimination they experience, which affects their mental health and increases their likelihood of unhealthy behaviour, such as smoking, alcohol misuse and disordered eating. Research has shown that gay men are more likely to use unhealthy weight-control strategies, such as fasting and using laxatives, to lose weight than heterosexual men.
Also, there is evidence that ideal body-size standards among heterosexuals are rejected by the LGB population. Research shows that sexual minority women have higher levels of body satisfaction while conversely, young gay and bisexual men tend to see themselves as overweight, despite being healthy or underweight.
According to the National LGBTI Health Alliance, most Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Australians live healthy and happy lives, however research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI.
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READ: WHY BODY MASS INDEX AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION STUDY RAISES HEALTH CONCERNS FOR LESBIAN AND GAP PEOPLE. (The Conversation)