Why we think that study saying lesbian are more likely to be fat is disturbing

The University of East Anglia and UCL, published a research on Thursday (January 21) in the Journal of Public Health, that investigates the interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity via evaluating participants’ BMI index. The research concluded that lesbians are more likely to be over weight. 

A study conducted among almost 90,000 British adults also found that gay men are less likely to be overweight than straight men. The report states that lesbians were 41 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than straight women, and bisexual women had a 24 per cent increased risk.

According to the authors of the report, it is the first study to investigate the relationship between sexual orientation and body mass index (BMI) using population data in the UK. However, this is not the first time that the government and other noteworthy research bodies are spending thousands of dollar to co-relate obesity and sexual orientation in the name of taking health positive initiatives for the homosexual community. Earlier in 2013, CNS reported that a hospital in Boston, Mass., had received two grants totaling $1.5 million from The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) and the NICHD to examine the role of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities.

This approach of evaluating the health of the LGBT community by weighing them does not only largely reinforces the stereotypes of gays and lesbians, but also reeks of victim blaming attitude. In a world, where the LGBTQ community already faces a lot of social disparity and difficulties to bring in a research that only focuses on the symptom rather than the cause is highly disturbing. It is widely known that homosexuals are more prone to societal trauma and neglect, often leading to an unhealthy relationship with food. The study completely neglects the common stressors for homosexuals that include homophobia and heterosexism couple with other negative experiences  throughout their lives as a result of their sexual orientation identity.

Moreover, this entire foundation of questioning one’s health only on the basis of their BMI index itself is questionable.  It was found in a report that 30 per cent of people with “healthy” BMIs were in fact not healthy at all based on their other health data.  Based on the measurements of the body alone, BMI doesn’t take into consideration a person’s fat and muscle structures. 

It would have been a more meaningful approach probably if the researchers had come up with more in-depth, holistic reports that not merely touch the topic, but also take into account the unspoken common denominators like childhood history, teenage trauma and societal pressures. Then only we will be able to see the actual implications of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

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