September 11, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 8  

Front Page >> News > Lesbians and blubber a package deal: study


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Lesbians and blubber a package deal: study

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

A 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," she remarked.

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 heart disease.

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 counterparts.

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 understood.

"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."



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