Tax $$ At Work: Federal Agency Asks Why Lesbians Are Obese
The conservative news website Cybercast News Service, formerly known as the Conservative News Service, recently reported that the National Institutes of Health was awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why three-quarters of lesbians are obese (according to their statistics, at least), and why most gay men are not (ditto).
The study, titled "Sexual Orientation and Obesity: Test of a Gender Biophysical Model," has been around for two years and will continue into 2016, the Atlantic Wire points out. The project is lead by S. Bryn Austin, an associate professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, and is funded by grants from the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. According to the study’s abstract, researchers will look into the connection between obesity and sexual orientation.
In a statement to the Atlantic, Austin said in order to stop the obesity epidemic in the U.S., "we need to understand what all the causes are, and the causes and solutions to obesity are likely different for different parts of society. Lesbian and bisexual girls and women make up almost 5 million Americans."
Austin adds that lesbians and bisexual girls and woman and straight men are "the hardest hit" when it comes to obesity. "Why is that? We don’t know, but our study is designed to find out so we can come up with better ways to combat the epidemic for these communities," he said.
The Atlantic also cites a passage from the study, which says, "It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic, with nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians overweight or obese, compared to half of heterosexual women. In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males."
Although the Atlantic explains why the study would be beneficial, the publication took issue with CNS News’ headline, "Feds Spend $1.5 Million to Study Why Lesbians Are Fat."
"But there’s more here than the knee-jerk (and not very subtle) lesbian fat joke," the article reads. "It’s important to remember that nearly half of straight women are obese, too, and that the study is also figuring out why straight men are more often overweight than gay men." The Atlantic goes on to say that CNS News’ headline could have read, "’Obama administration spends $1.5 million to figure out why straight men are fat’" or "’Obama administration spends $1.5 million to figure out why gay men have rocking bodies.’"
The publication notes that the conservative media has a problem with the study because they view it as "insignificant" and that it is "wasteful spending on the sciences," especially during trying times and when President Obama and Congress are working out a budget deal.
The Atlantic defended the study. "Before you go pointing fingers, consider that the $741,378 granted to the study in 2012 is .08 percent of the estimated $829 million the NIH spent on obesity research in 2012," according to the magazine. "If you’re going to get mad at that tiny fragment of that massive budget, you could also get angry at the fact that, in 2011, the Obama administration OK’d around $10,000 more than that on Pediatric Primary Care Based Obesity Prevention Obesity, which figures out how doctors’ phone calls can help kids stay healthy."
It’s hardly surprising that Rush Limbaugh (who could be a poster boy for the "straight men are fat" part of the NIH hypothesis) picked up on this study, "this in the midst of a sequester," he hastened to note. "So 75 percent of lesbians are fat, and gay males are not, and that isn’t fair, and that is unjust, and so we’ve gotta allocate a million and a half bucks in the sequester to find out why, to get to the bottom of this." (Nowhere did the NIH say that it "isn’t fair.")
The real shocker of the program, however, was the female "Dittohead" who called into the radio host’s program and made an intelligent, perceptive and even incisive observation.
"The lesbian woman, really, she doesn’t have to deal with a visual, shallow man," the Florida caller said. "She just has to please her partner, and usually women are less concerned with physical attributes and more concerned with a internal, like, you know, the way they think in their personality and so forth. And the homosexual man, he has to please a man, who is visual and shallow."