Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors Among Adolescent Transgender Students: School Survey Results

Anna Bishop, Francine Overcash, Jenifer McGuire, Marla Reicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose: Diet and physical activity behaviors are determinants of health for adolescents; however, few studies have assessed these behaviors among transgender youth. This study examined dietary behaviors, physical activity, weight-based bullying, and weight status among four groups based on transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) status and birth-assigned sex. Methods: Data were from a large cross-sectional, population-based, statewide survey of high school students (n = 80,794, Minnesota Student Survey, 2016). Comparisons were made for dietary and physical activity behaviors among TGNC and cisgender youth and among TGNC birth-assigned males and females and cisgender males and females. Results: About 2.7% of the total survey respondents identified as TGNC. TGNC students were more likely to be ethnically diverse, not living with a biological parent, participating in free or reduced-price school meals, and skipping meals compared with cisgender students. TGNC youth reported less frequent intake of fruit and milk and more frequent intake of fast food and soft drinks than cisgender students. TGNC students were also more likely to be overweight or obese, bullied for weight or size, and less likely to be physically active compared with cisgender youth. TGNC birth-assigned males reported more frequent intake of fast food and soft drinks and less physical activity compared with TGNC birth-assigned females and cisgender boys and girls. Conclusions: TGNC students reported more negative health behaviors than cisgender students. Programs to address disparities in diet and physical activity behaviors may need to be tailored by gender identity and gender identity subgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


  • Diet and physical activity behaviors
  • Transgender adolescents
  • Weight status
  • Weight-based bullying

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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