Role of Sex on the Relationship Between Sexual Minority Status and Misperceptions of Body Weight Among High School Students

Dale S. Mantey, Andrew Yockey, Cristina S. Barroso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Misperception of body weight during adolescence is a risk factor for negative self-image, harmful eating/dietary habits (e.g., binge eating and purging), and body dysmorphia. Sexual minority youth, particularly males, may be at increased risk for misperceptions of body weight, relative to youth who do not identify as a sexual minority. This study examines the risk for misperception of body weight among sexual minority youth and explores biological sex as an effect modifier in this relationship. Methods: We pooled data from the 2015 and 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys. Participants were 18,634 high school students who were not overweight/obese. Multivariable logistic regression examined the association between sexual minority status (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual, and unsure) and misperceptions of body weight (i.e., self-perceived as overweight/severely overweight). Weighted multivariable logistic regression analyses, stratified by biological sex, were used to compare this relationship across males and females. Covariates included race/ethnicity, grade, bullying victimization, television/electronic screen time, and tobacco use. Results: Overall, 16.6% of the sample self-reported misperceptions of body weight. Sexual minority youth had 1.49 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.28–1.73) greater odds of misperception of body weight, adjusting for covariates; this relationship was found across biological sex, but that the main effect was significantly greater among sexual minority males (adjusted odds ratio: 2.24, 95% CI: 1.65–3.03) relative to sexual minority females (adjusted odds ratio: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.11–1.59). Conclusions: Sexual minority youth had greater odds of overestimating their weight status. Biological sex appears to modify this relationship with sexual minority males being at particularly high risk for overestimating their weight status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume68
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Body weight
  • Body weight perceptions
  • Psychosocial variables
  • Sexual minority youth
  • Weight status

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