Study: Diabetes risk higher among LGBTQ teens

EVANSTON — A Northwestern Medicne study released this week found that LGBTQ teens were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than heterosexual teens.

The study, reported by Northwestern News Service, is among the first to examine how health behaviors linked to minority stress – the day-to-day stress faced by stigmatized and marginalized populations – may contribute to the risk of poor physical health among LGBTQ youth. The study also found that LGBTQ youth were more likely to be obese, to engage in less physical activity and be more sedentary.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth may not only be at risk for worse mental health but also worse physical health outcomes compared to heterosexual youth,” lead study author Lauren Beach, a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, told Northwestern News Service.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • On average, sexual minority and questioning students were less likely to engage in physical activity than heterosexual students. They reported approximately one less day per week of physical activity and were 38 to 53 percent less likely to meet physical activity guidelines than heterosexual students.
  • The number of hours of sedentary activity among bisexual and questioning students was higher than heterosexual students (an average of 30 minutes more per school day than heterosexual counterparts),
  • Lesbian, bisexual and questioning female students were 1.55 to 2.07 times more likely to be obese than heterosexual female students.

Beach told the news service that these findings shouldn’t be viewed as a “doomsday” for these youth. She believes this is an opportunity to improve the health of LGBTQ youth.

She said that teachers, parents and physicians should work together to ensure these youth have the tools they need to stay healthy. Family support and identity affirmation have been linked to better health among LGBTQ youth.

For more information and the full details of the study, go to the original story at Northwestern Now.

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