Gay, Transgender Children More Likely to be Obese, New Study Finds

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 28, 2020

According to a new study by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, children self-identifying as LGBTQ are more prone to obesity than their peers, The Daily Mail reports.

The study found LGBTQ children are 64 percent more at risk of becoming obese than heterosexual children, and 3.5 times as likely to suffer from binge-eating.

With 12,000 US children participating — with permission of parents and guardians —researchers presented questions on self-identifying: "are you gay or bisexual?" and "are you transgender?" Respondents answered with one of four options: "yes," "maybe," "no" or "I do not understand."

190 participants (1.6 percent) answered "yes" or "maybe" were grouped in the Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) cohort. Approximately a quarter (24.7 percent) of the 190 participants responded "yes" to sexual orientation or gender orientation, with a majority (75.3 percent) answering "maybe."

The study found no correlation between SGM status and the prevalence of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. However, the study indicates a nearly 3.5-times increased risk for binge-eating — five of the 190 SGM children (2.6 percent) in the study suffered from a binge-eating disorder, while 129 of the 11,662 non-SGM children (1.1 per cent) do not.

The researchers admit the study, which was published today in JAMA Pediatrics, requires further investigation: "Limitations include the possibility that SGM identities are not well established during this period and, rather, continue to evolve in adolescence."

The study also took into account race and socio-economic status of the children's families, finding Black, Asian, and Hispanic children twice as likely to be obese as their white peers.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.