The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $1.5 million to fund a study on why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese while gay males are not. Considering the issue of “high public-health significance,” the study will examine biological, psychological, and social factors surrounding the weight disparity. Scientists say there has been little to no research done in this area as of yet.
“Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today,” the grant description 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 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.”
NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has given two grants to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Mass., to study the relationships between obesity and sexual orientation.
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BWH received $778,622 for the project in 2011 and $741,378 in 2012 for a total of $1.52 million. While the study could take five years complete, the NICHD says the automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1 could gum up the works.
"The NIH is currently assessing the impact on funding due to sequestration," said Press Officer for the NICHD Robert Bock. "It is not possible to say how this (or any other NIH grant) will be affected in the long term beyond the 90 percent funding levels already in place."
"Obesity is a serious public health problem affecting a large proportion of the U.S. population," Bock added. "The study is examining reasons why the risk of obesity varies according to sexual orientation, in order to inform the development of future strategies to prevent obesity."
“It will be impossible to develop evidence-based preventive interventions unless we first answer basic questions about causal pathways, as we plan to do,” authors of the study said. “Our study has high potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities but also for heterosexuals, as we seek to uncover how processes of gender socialization may exacerbate obesity risk in both sexual minority females and heterosexual males.”
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Source: CNS News