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(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not, calling it an issue of “high public-health significance."
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., has received two grants administered by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity.
“Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today,” the description of the grant reads. “Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the determinants, distribution, and consequences of obesity are receiving increasing attention.”
“[H]owever, one area that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities,” it states. “It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic, with it continues.
“In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.”
The investigators say there has been “almost no” research devoted to this disparity, and they have set out to find the biological, psychological, and social factors behind it.
The project is being led by S. Bryn Austin, Director of Fellowship Research Training in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Austin is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health, and an Associate Epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), which is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
BWH first received a $778,622 grant for the study in 2011, followed by a $741,378 grant in 2012, totaling $1,520,000.