Adult health behaviors over the life course by sexual orientation

Am J Public Health. 2012 Feb;102(2):292-300. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300334. Epub 2011 Dec 15.


Objectives: We estimated differences in health behaviors among adults by sexual orientation.

Methods: We pooled 4 years of data (2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007) from the California Health Interview Survey. We estimated the frequency of smoking, alcohol use, healthy dietary behaviors, physical activity, and health care utilization, and we used logistic regression modeling to determine the odds of each behavior with increasing age and for 2 age groups: younger than 50 years and 50 years old or older.

Results: At any adult age, lesbians had greater odds of smoking and binge drinking than did heterosexual women, and gay and bisexual men had greater health care utilization than did heterosexual men. Other risk behaviors differed with age.

Conclusions: Some behavioral change interventions should target lesbians, gays, and bisexuals at all ages, whereas other interventions should specifically target individuals at younger ages.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult