According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, aging lesbians and bisexual women have higher rates of obesity, smoking, and stress compared to their heterosexual counterparts. A University of Missouri researcher wanted to address this issue by motivating and supporting lesbians and bisexuals in developing healthier habits and working towards maintaining a healthy weight. The primary goal of the study was not about weight loss, but rather about getting participants to make changes in their lifestyle habits; that is, to motivate them towards adopting healthier habits.
A National Health Interview Survey done in 2013 included questions about a person’s sexual orientation, something that had not been included before. The results of the survey showed researchers that 37% of gay or aging lesbian women and 41% bisexual women were obese compared with 28% of heterosexual women.
For this current study, each program enrolled overweight lesbian and bisexual women who were 40 and older. Weekly group meetings, nutrition education, and physical activity were the three main components of the program that each participant had to take part in over the course of 12 to 16 weeks; each program intervention was tailored for each woman and community.
Some of the changes the study wanted to see participants make over the course of the weeks included increasing the duration of physical activity, increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed on a daily basis, and decreasing how many sugar-sweetened and alcoholic beverages were consumed.
This is the first national study done to develop healthy weight programs for aging lesbian and bisexual women. The study had 266 participants partaking in the pilot programs in Missouri, California, New York, and Washington, DC. An astounding 95% of participants were able to achieve at least one of the health objectives essential to preventing obesity, and 58% were able to achieve three or more.
Sources for Today’s Article:
McElroy, J.A., et al, “Healthy Weight in Lesbian and Bisexual Women Aged 40 and Older: An Effective Intervention in 10 Cities Using Tailored Approaches,” journal Women’s Health Issues,