The National Institutes of Health awarded a Boston hospital more than $1.5 million to figure out why nearly three-quarters of lesbians are overweight — calling the disparities a significant public health issue.
“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,” according to a description of the grant.
The taxpayer money was awarded to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity. The project is overseen by S. Bryn Austin.
The grant was awarded through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The hospital received a 2011 grant worth $778,622 and a 2012 grant worth $778,622.
According to the NIH grant, the project’s end date is in 2016.
NIH Spokesman Robert Bock told Fox News future grant payments could be impacted by sequestration.
“It is not possible to say how this or any other NIH grant will be affected in the long term beyond the 90 percent funding levels already in place,” he said in a written statement.
“Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today,” the grant states. “Racial and socioeconomic disparities in obesity are receiving increasing attention; however, one area of disparities that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation.”
The hospital noted that heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.
“Our study has high potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities but also for heterosexuals,” the grant states.
“These disparities are of high public-health significance,” the hospital states in its grant.
Bock said obesity is a major public health problem in the United States and said the NIH had undertaken major research to understand the causes.
“The study on obesity and sexual orientation aims to understand why specific populations are disproportionately affected by obesity and how best to inform prevention and treatment strategies aimed at these populations,” he said.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said it is disturbing that tax dollars are being used to fund the study.
“When you look at a nation that’s $17 trillion in debt – there’s a reason. It’s because we do frivolous studies that serve no benefit other than to give a special interest group something to talk about,” he told Fox News. “Why are we issuing grants to study things that have no affect on the well-being of the nation as a whole?”