Monday, September 15, 2003

Affairs of the heart

There have been many causes put forward for heart disease. But your sexuality?

That is the claim put forward by researchers from the University of California San Francisco. They questioned equal numbers of lesbians and heterosexuals and found that lesbians were fatter than straight women. Apparently, lesbians are less likely to be concerned about their weight, or to see themselves as overweight. The researchers conclude that since people with a higher weight-to-height ratio (body-mass index) are more likely to suffer from heart problems, then lesbians must be more likely to suffer from them, too.

Firstly, the extrapolation is extremely tenuous. For example, if lesbians were 10 percent more likely to be overweight, and overweight people were 10 percent more like to suffer heart disease, the increase risk to lesbians is one percent. Even then, the link between weight and heart disease is only significant when people are very substantially overweight. Hardly the kind of thing to lose sleep over.

Secondly, what a screwed-up society we live in where there is constant angst about women being told to conform to unrealistically-thin body images, only to condemn lesbians for being comfortable about their weight!

Lesbians 'have higher heart disease risk', BBC News, 13 September 2003

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