The prevalence of childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Obesity in adolescence is especially concerning because obese adolescents are at an elevated risk for high cholesterol, hypertension, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea.
On the other end of the spectrum, eating disorders and disordered weight-control behaviors, such as purging and diet pill use, represent the third most common chronic childhood illnesses, after obesity and asthma. Eating disorders are also associated with a range of serious health problems.
To identify risk factors for eating disorders and obesity in teens, researchers supported by the Child Development and Behavior Branch analyzed anonymous survey data from 24,591 diverse high school students.
The scientists found that lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity was associated with substantially higher risk of purging and diet pill use in both girls and boys. Bisexual girls and boys were also at elevated odds of obesity compared to same-gender heterosexuals (PMID: 23237207).