The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3359.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - Board 10

Abstract #62821

Perceptions of body image, dieting, and weight loss programs among overweight lesbians

Deborah J. Aaron, PhD, Department of Health, Physical, and Recreation Education, University of Pittsburgh, 155 Trees Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, 412-648-8272,, Mary Lou Klem, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, and Katie Hindes, MPH, Department of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 130 DeSoto St, Pittsburgh, PA 15261.

Empirical research indicates that lesbians may have higher rates of obesity compared to women in the general population. However, there has been little attempt to develop and test effective weight control interventions targeting this high-risk population. The lack of focus may be due to perceptions that overweight lesbians are more accepting of their body weight and would not be interested in weight loss programs. The purpose of this study was to examine those perceptions among overweight lesbians. Data were obtained from 3 focus groups that included 18 lesbian women, mean age of 43.6 yrs and mean body mass index of 30.6 kg/m2. Several key themes emerged. Participants agreed that lesbians were more accepting of different body sizes. Women were comfortable with their own bodies and did not feel any social pressure to lose weight. However, they would like to lose some weight, primarily for health reasons and to make daily activities easier to perform. Many women had previously participated in commercial weight loss programs but found the programs were too focused on issues that were relevant to heterosexual women. However, the women did indicate an interest in future participation if the programs were lesbian specific. Overall, these data indicate there is a need for weight loss programs for lesbians, the programs should be designed to promote weight loss as a means of improving health and functional ability, and intervention materials and weight loss programs should be marketed as specifically for lesbians. Funded by Obesity/Nutrition Research Center, University of Pittsburgh

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Topics in LGBT Health - II

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA