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Body size and weight, and the nutrition and activity behaviours of sexual and gender minority youth: findings and implications from New Zealand

  • Mathijs FG Lucassen (a1) (a2), Aravinda Meera Guntupalli (a1), Terryann Clark (a3), John Fenaughty (a4), Simon Denny (a5), Theresa Fleming (a2) (a6), Melody Smith (a3) and Jennifer Utter (a7)...



To describe the body size and weight, and the nutrition and activity behaviours of sexual and gender minority (SGM) students and compare them with those of exclusively opposite-sex-attracted cisgender students. Male and female SGM students were also compared.


Data were from a nationally representative health survey.


Secondary schools in New Zealand, 2012.


A total of 7769 students, 9 % were SGM individuals.


Overall, weight-control behaviours, poor nutrition and inactivity were common and, in many cases, more so for SGM students. Specifically, male SGM students (adjusted OR; 95 % CI) were significantly more likely to have tried to lose weight (1·95; 1·47, 2·59), engage in unhealthy weight control (2·17; 1·48, 3·19), consume fast food/takeaways (2·89; 2·01, 4·15) and be physically inactive (2·54; 1·65, 3·92), and were less likely to participate in a school sports team (0·57; 0·44, 0·75), compared with other males. Female SGM students (adjusted OR; 95 % CI) were significantly more likely to engage in unhealthy weight control (1·58; 1·20, 2·08), be overweight or obese (1·24; 1·01, 1·53) and consume fast food/takeaways (2·19; 1·59, 3·03), and were less likely to participate in a school sports team (0·62; 0·50, 0·76), compared with other females. Generally, female SGM students were more negatively affected than comparable males, except they were less likely to consume fast food/takeaways frequently (adjusted OR; 95 % CI: 0·62; 0·40, 0·96).


SGM students reported increased weight-control behaviours, poor nutrition and inactivity. Professionals, including public health nutritionists, must recognize and help to address the challenges facing sexual and gender minorities.


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