195661 Obesity, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Orientation: Women Enrolled in the ESTHER Study

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Helen Smith, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Nina Markovic, PhD , Graduate School of Public Health, Dept. of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Michelle Danielson, PhD , Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Alicia Matthews, PhD , Department of Public Health, Mental Health, and Administrative Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Evelyn O. Talbott, DrPH, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, Director University of Pittsburgh Academic Center for Excellence in Environmental PH Tracking, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Ada Youk, PhD , Department of Statistics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Cynthia Larkby, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Tonda Hughes, PhD , College of Nursing, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Prior studies indicate that women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are at greater risk for obesity. Published research shows that lesbians have higher rates of both self-reported sexual abuse and overweight/obesity when compared to heterosexual women; however, this association has not been fully explored. Our aim was to investigate the association between obesity and sexual abuse history among women who participated in the ESTHER Project (Epidemiologic STudy of HEalth Risk in Women). The ESTHER Project (2003-2006) included 1084 women 34 years and over, half self-identified as lesbian (n= 504). Three self-reported sexual abuse measures were used. CSA was assessed by asking respondents whether they were sexually abused by a family member or non-family member prior to age 18. Adult sexual abuse asked about forced activity after age 18. Chi square tests compared prevalence rates of five World Health Organization (WHO)-defined BMI Categories (underweight, normal, overweight, obese and severely obese), reported sexual abuse, and sexual orientation. Lesbians were significantly more likely to report all three types of sexual abuse and were more likely to be obese (BMI >30) and severely obese (BMI>40) than heterosexual women. Logistic regression analysis adjusting for potential confounders indicated that having less education than a bachelor's degree, lower income, African American race, lesbian sexual orientation, reported sexual abuse by a family member at ages < 18, and history of depression were associated with current obesity in adulthood. Future weight loss interventions should examine the impact of sexual abuse and sexual orientation.

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe the prevalence of sexual abuse and obesity in adult women, specifically in relation to sexual orientation. 2.Identify predictors of obesity in a sample of 1084 women in Pittsburgh, PA. 3.Describe the similarities and differences in body mass index (BMI) levels among lesbian and heterosexual women as it relates to sexual abuse.

Keywords: Obesity, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I will present. This material represents part of my PhD dissertation in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. I plan to graduate in April 2009. I was also employed as a graduate student researcher (GSR) on the ESTHER Project. My analysis was based on women who participated in the ESTHER Project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.