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A systematic review of the literature on weight in sexual minority women

BACKGROUND: Over the past 20 years, a growing literature has demonstrated that sexual minority women have greater weight than heterosexual women, prompting concern that they may be at high risk for disparities in physical disorders. In 2008, Bowen et al. published a review of the existing research on sexual minority women and obesity, finding no methodologically strong studies with representative sampling procedures. METHOD: We conducted a systematic review of the literature covering the period of July 2006 to February 2014 on the relationship between sexual orientation and weight. The review includes 20 population-based and 17 nonprobability sample studies. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of these studies found that lesbian and bisexual women had significantly greater body mass index (BMI) or a higher percentage with a BMI over 30 than heterosexual women. The difference in BMI was fairly consistent across the lifespan, with the weight differences beginning in adolescence. The studies, however, did not show a higher prevalence of physical disorders thought to be associated with weight. This potentially paradoxical finding warrants further research to compare prevalence of chronic disease by BMI category and sexual orientation


Eliason, MJ., Ingraham, N., Fogel, SC., McElroy, JA., Lorvick, J., Mauery, DR., & Haynes, S. (2015). A systematic review of the literature on weight in sexual minority women. Women's Health Issues, 25(2), 162-175. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2014.12.001

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