College Climate and Sexual Orientation Differences in Weight Status

Nicole A. VanKim, Marla E. Eisenberg, Darin J. Erickson, Katherine Lust, Melissa N. Laska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous research has identified significant sexual orientation disparities in obesity. Contextual factors, like lack of anti-discrimination policies and gay-straight alliances, have been shown to be associated with health outcomes like poor mental health and substance use for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals moreso than their heterosexual counterparts; however, little work to date has explored the role of contextual factors on sexual orientation disparities in obesity. Individual-level, serial cross-sectional data from the 2009–2013 College Student Health Survey, which includes 2- and 4-year college students (n = 29,118) attending 46 Minnesota colleges, were used. College-level data on LGB context were primarily collected through college websites. Multinomial logistic regression models were fit to examine associations between LGB college climate scores (including non-discrimination policies, presence of LGB or diversity-related student groups, LGB courses offered, LGB housing accommodations, and prevalence of LGB students) and students’ weight status (underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese), based on self-reported height and weight. Higher LGB climate scores (i.e., more supportive environments) were associated with lower risk of overweight and obesity among all students. Sexual orientation-stratified findings among female students suggested that the association between LGB climate scores and weight status was similar to the overall female sample. Sexual orientation-stratified findings among male students showed a more complex relationship between LGB climate scores and weight status. More work is needed to disentangle the observed associations, and to investigate other contextual factors, like state- and city-level policies, social networks and norms, and individual resiliency within these contexts to better understand the contextual influences on sexual orientation disparities in obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPrevention Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Climate
Sexual Behavior
Weights and Measures
Students
Sexual Minorities
Obesity

Keywords

  • College students
  • Context
  • Sexual orientation
  • Weight behaviors

Cite this

College Climate and Sexual Orientation Differences in Weight Status. / VanKim, Nicole A.; Eisenberg, Marla E.; Erickson, Darin J.; Lust, Katherine; Laska, Melissa N.

In: Prevention Science, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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