Lesbians and blubber
a package deal: study
By Anton Vidgen
recent study found lesbians weigh more and carry more weight
around their waistlines than heterosexual women, putting them
at higher risk for cardiovascular illness such as heart disease.
Co-principle investigator Stephanie Roberts
and her colleagues at the School of Nursing at the University
of California, San Francisco, surveyed 324 lesbians over the
age of 40 living in California and compared them with their
similarly-aged heterosexual sisters.
"Our finding in waist circumference
and waist-to-hip ratio suggests the increase in body mass index
(BMI) is excess fat," Roberts said, noting BMI is a generally-accepted
method of determining obesity. "BMI is greater in lesbians
than heterosexual women."
Roberts said the lesbians' sisters were chosen
as a comparison since genetics remain relatively constant in
each case. "[Comparing with sisters] would allow us to
look at behavioural differences with genetics as a control,"
However, according to Roberts, on average
neither the lesbians or their sisters fell into an ideal weight
range. She said both groups had BMI indexes over 25, a level
associated with increased risk for high blood pressure and coronary
Roberts cautioned interpreters of the study
not to read too deeply. "This is just a beginning,"
Roberts said. "There's nothing in this study to explain
why there is this difference," she continued, referring
to why lesbians seemed to be larger than their heterosexual
Although in previous studies lesbians have
shown themselves to be relaxed about weight, conclusions as
to the cause of the fatness should not be linked to any one
source. Roberts cautioned. She said biological factors, such
as hormones or genetics, may play a much bigger role than currently
"Despite any health implications of
[the study], that need to break body-image barriers is an important,
important breakthrough," said Julia Rady, Queerline commissioner
for the University Students' Council. "I think there should
be an emphasis on a healthy living style."