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U.S. Report Compares Health of Gay, Lesbian and Straight People

Update Date: Jul 17, 2014 04:11 PM EDT
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By identifying health patterns, doctors can ideally screen and treat their patients more effectively. A new U.S. report set out to compare the health of people with different sexual orientations.

"We saw some differences by sexual orientation, but there is no clear overall pattern," said report lead author Brian Ward, a health statistician with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, according to Philly. "You can't say gay, lesbians and bisexuals have poorer health overall."

For this report, the researchers surveyed almost 35,000 adults in-person in 2013. 96.6 percent of them stated that they were heterosexual, 1.6 percent identified as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identified as bisexual. The survey was a part of the National Health Interview Survey. Even though the team did not find clear health patterns, they noted some trends. For example, more than 40 percent of bisexual women were obese in comparison to over 33 percent of lesbian women and 28 percent of straight women. Lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to skip medical care within the last year due to costs.

Some of the other trends involved drug use and physical activity. The researchers found that gay and lesbian people were more likely than straight people to smoke and/or binge drink. 35.1 percent of gays or lesbians and 41.5 percent of bisexuals reported drinking five or more alcoholic beverages on one day at least once over the past year. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals were also more likely to report higher levels of exercise than heterosexual people. The report noted that gay men appeared to be the fittest.

"We know that these differences exist," Susan Cochran, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said. "Now we can measure whether anything has been done about these things over time."

The report was released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

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