If you are L,G,B, or T you may be at risk for poor nutrition, weight, and eating disorders. Lesbians, some gay and bisexual men and people living with HIV infection and LGBT or questioning adolescents tend to have a high body mass index. Lesbians are more likely to be overweight or obese than heterosexual women. A segment of gay men referred to as 'bears' (because of their larger girth) may have higher levels of compulsive eating. LGBT adolescents, particularly males, may suffer high levels of undernutrition associated with body dissatisfaction and eating disorders and this problem may extend into adulthood. Complications of HIV infection have the potential for producing malnutrition, protein depletion, and weight loss.
Furthermore, transgender persons transitioning to the opposite gender are more likely to modify their diet, their eating behaviors, or their perception of weight. This is especially true for female-to-male (FTM) transgenders who may attempt to achieve a higher BMI because it seems more masculine in appearance and male-to-female (MTF) transgenders who may be more likely to diet or have higher rates of eating disorders in an effort to attain a more feminine appearance. In addition, hormone therapy with androgens or estrogens may predispose transgenders to weight gain. Androgen therapy in FTM transgenders is known to cause a shift in lipid profiles to male patterns and this increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. If any of these circumstances apply, you should contact a professional. You may have to 'shop around' for the help, but if these sort of disorders are left untreated, they can lead to serious illness.
There are some LGBT-competent health care and support services available which address nutrition, physical activity, and weight for lesbians with a high BMI, gay and bisexual men with weight or body image concerns, transgender individuals, persons living with HIV infection, and LGBT or questioning adolescents. Contact your local LGBT support group, association, or the resources listed as part of this module for further direction.
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