Obesity is continuing to rise at alarming rates in many western countries and there can be very little doubt that our modern lifestyle and diet is to a very large extent responsible for what has now been officially classed as an epidemic. However, there is also a small but growing school of thought which holds that increasing obesity is also to a certain extent genetic.
At this point in time there is little evidence to support a genetic component to obesity and it is not really possible to draw any firm conclusions. However, one recent interesting development may add some validity to the genetic argument.
In a national study of nearly 6,000 women it was found that lesbian women were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than heterosexual women and were also nearly two and a half times more likely to be obese.
These finding were surprising as the study also noted that in general lesbian women had a better image of their bodies than heterosexual women and also tended to take more formal exercise. One argument put forward in an effort to discount the findings of this study suggested that lesbian women were more muscular than heterosexual women and that this accounted for their higher body mass index (BMI). However, this was ruled out as, although high muscular weight and low body fat can produce a deceptively high BMI reading, this was taken into account during the study and the readings were adjusted accordingly.
So what is the explanation?
Well, the simple answer is that we don't know. However, there is increasingly strong evidence to support a genetic link to sexuality and one suggestion therefore is that, in the absence of any other explanation, perhaps the propensity for obesity is also genetic.
Only time and further research will answer this question but, in the meantime, lesbian women should be made aware of the fact that they are at greater risk of developing obesity.
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