Study: Gay men thinner than heterosexuals, lesbian heavier

Tue. June 8, 2010 12:00 AM by News Staff

Boston, MA - A new study by university researchers supports the stereotype that gay men are thinner than their heterosexual counterparts and lesbians are heavier.

After surveying more than 67,000 Massachusetts residents between the ages of 18 and 64, Boston researchers reveal that gay women were more than twice as likely as straight women to be obese, while gay men were 50 percent less likely to be obese as straight men.

In a study published in American Journal of Public Health, researchers determined that while 21 percent of straight men were classed as obese, only 14 percent of gay men were. The opposite was true of gay women. 26 percent of lesbians were found to be obese, as compared with 17 percent of the straight women. 

"People in sexual relationships with men — heterosexual women and gay men — get more pressure to look thin and to otherwise conform to attractiveness norms than do people in sexual relationships with women — lesbians and heterosexual men," explained Esther Rothblum, a San Diego State University women's studies professor explains.

The research also indicated that gay men and lesbians were more likely to smoke than straight people and lesbians were more likely to be at risk of heart disease than straight women.

The study's lead author Kerith Conron, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, told that the findings made a good case for tailoring health messages to lesbians and gay men.

The report was published in the American Journal of Public Health.