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Obesity, Eating Disorders More Common in Sexual-, Gender-Minority Youth

MONDAY, Dec. 28, 2020 -- Sexual- and gender-minority (SGM) youth are more likely to have obesity and binge eating disorder versus non-SGM peers, according to a research letter published online Dec. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Natasha A. Schvey, Ph.D., from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues used data from 11,852 participants (aged 9 to 10 years; 47.9 percent female; 58.9 percent non-Hispanic White) in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study to evaluate obesity and eating disorders among SGM youth.

The researchers found that one in six youths (16.8 percent) had obesity and 10.2 percent had a full-threshold (0.7 percent) and/or subthreshold (9.4 percent) eating disorder. It was estimated that 1.6 percent of participants were probable sexual- and/or gender-minority youths. SGM youths were more likely to have obesity (odds ratio, 1.64) and full-threshold or subthreshold binge eating disorder (odds ratio, 3.49) in an adjusted analysis. The investigators observed no differences between SGM and non-SGM youths in the likelihood of full-threshold or subthreshold anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

"Clinicians should consider assessing eating- and health-related behaviors among SGM youths," the authors write. "Prospective research with larger samples of SGM youths is needed to elucidate the mechanisms contributing to observed health disparities."

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Posted: December 2020

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