Sexual Orientation and Diabetes During the Transition to Adulthood

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LGBT Health

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine how sexual orientation in adolescence and young adulthood was linked to diabetes risk.

Methods: Data were drawn from the 1994–2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The baseline sample included 4330 girls and 3510 boys ages 12–18. Guided by the life course approach, we considered both the timing and continuity of sexual orientation—broadly defined by sexual identity, sexual attraction, sexual contact, and romantic/sexual relationships—by differentiating respondents into four categories: sexual minority in both adolescence and adulthood, sexual minority in adulthood only, sexual minority in adolescence only, and heterosexual in both adolescence and young adulthood. Diabetes was identified using A1c and glucose biomarkers and self-reports of diabetes diagnosis or medication use.

Results: Results from logistic regression models indicated that in comparison with their continuously heterosexual counterparts, respondents reporting sexual minority status in adulthood only or continuously in both adolescence and adulthood had higher diabetes risk in adulthood. However, respondents reporting sexual minority status in adolescence only were not different in diabetes risk in adulthood. The association between diabetes risk and continuous sexual minority status was stronger among women than among men.

Conclusions: Sexual minority health disparities emerge early in the life course during adolescence and young adulthood. These findings highlight the importance of designing and implementing policies and public programs to alleviate minority stress early in life to reduce health disparities.


Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers



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