Study on Programs Helping Lesbian/Bisexual Women to Live Healthier Lives

food guide pyramid

The Miami Herald published an article on a successful program that helps lesbians and bisexual women to be healthier, “Study: Lesbian, bisexual women developing healthier lives.”

I wrote about the study showing that lesbians have higher obesity rates than heterosexual women referenced in this article in my post “Obesity Study Showing Lesbians with a Higher Obesity Rate is a No Brainer.” The right wing had a filed day over the original study claiming that heterosexuality makes you thinner. What they failed to mention in all of the lesbian bashing articles is that straight men are much fatter than gay men by an even larger measure. Straight women and gay men are skinnier because they have to date dealing with the expectations of men.

According to the The National Center for Health Statistics 60% of adult women in the U.S. are overweight. 1/3 are obese. Obesity can cause problems like joint issues, diabetes, cervical cancer, heart problems, and high cholesterol.

The National Health Interview Survey done in 2013 studied obesity and sexual orientation. It showed…

  1. 37% of gay or lesbian women were obese
  2. 41% of bisexual women were obese.
  3. 28% of heterosexual women are obese

These studies on obesity also show that black and Latina women have obesity rates higher than white women. Cultural factors and poverty are issues that affect weight in the heterosexual community and LB community.

In response to this researchers began programs to preventing weight-related chronic illnesses in lesbian and bisexuals.  “Instead of focusing on weight loss, McElroy’s research study created programs to foster healthier lifestyle behaviors.” The programs included increasing exercise and well as weekly support group meetings, and nutritional education.

The day-to-day changes some participants made could be as small as consciously making the decision to park farther away from an entrance when going to the market or taking a stroll after dinner. In the long run, the modest changes had more impact on participants’ lives, especially when there was no pressure to lower the number on the scale.

“The biggest feature (of the study) is no pressure of weight loss,” Lavender said. “It isn’t about who can lose the most weight but how we can increase our fitness.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health funded the study. Funding for these types of programs is controversial, as conservatives often don’t believe in government spending in these areas as the budget is already stretched so thin. However, these programs were successful.

A summation form

  • Nearly 60 percent of the HWLB participants increased their weekly physical activity minutes by 20 percent while 29 percent decreased their waist-to-height ratios by 5 percent.

  • 95 percent of HWLB participants achieved one of the health objectives – which included nutrition goals as well as targets for physical activity and weight loss – while 58 percent achieved three or more.

  • When participants with specific intervention components were compared to the no-intervention group, those in the pedometer and mindfulness programs were more likely to increase their total minutes of physical activity by 20 percent, and those in the gym group were more likely to experience a 5 percent decrease in waist-to-height ratio.

This is the type of programs lesbian and bisexual organizations should promote, which currently they are not as there aren’t really any LGBT orgs that cater to women specific issues like this.



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