Pubertal Stress and Nutrition and their Association with Sexual Orientation and Height in the Add Health Data
- 356 Downloads
A number of studies have indicated that gay men tend to be shorter, on average, than heterosexual men. Less evidence exists that lesbian women are taller, on average, than heterosexual women. The most popular explanation of the association between sexual orientation and height involves prenatal factors, such that, for example, gay men may have been exposed to lower than typical androgens during fetal development, which impacts their height and sexual orientation as adults. An alternative explanation involves stress, given that stress has been associated with sexual minority identification and with lower height. Another alternative explanation involves nutrition, although its relationship is less clear with sexual minority identification. Using the Add Health data, which is a large, nationally representative and longitudinal sample of American adolescents (n = 14,786), we tested a mediation model, such that sexual orientation → pubertal stress/nutrition → height. Within men, we found that gay men (n = 126) were shorter, on average, than heterosexual men (n = 6412). None of the 24 pubertal stress-related and 15 pubertal nutrition-related variables assessed in the Add Health data mediated the relationship between sexual orientation and height in men. Within women, lesbians (n = 75) did not differ significantly in stature compared to heterosexual women (n = 6267). Thus, prenatal mechanisms (e.g., hormones, maternal immune response) are likely better candidates for explaining the height difference between gay men and heterosexual men.
KeywordsSexual orientation Height Stress Puberty Physical development Add Health
- Adkins, D. E., Daw, J. K., McClay, J. L., & Van Den Oord, E. J. C. G. (2012). The influence of five monoamine genes on trajectories of depressive symptoms across adolescence and young adulthood. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 267–285. doi:10.1017/S0954579411000824.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Austin, S. B., Rosario, M., McLaughlin, K. A., Roberts, A. L., Gordon, A. R., Sarda, V., … Scherer, E. A. (2016). Sexual orientation and diurnal cortisol patterns in a cohort of U.S. young adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 69, 197–208. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.04.012.
- Becker, J. B., Arnold, A. P., Berkley, K. J., Blaustein, J. D., Eckel, L. A., Hampson, E., … Young, E. (2005). Strategies and methods for research on sex differences in brain and behavior. Endocrinology, 146, 1650–1673. doi:10.1210/en.2004-1142.
- Chen, P., & Chantala, K. (2014, March). Guidelines for analyzing Add Health data. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/data/guides/wt-guidelines.pdf.
- Chernausek, S. D., Backeljauw, P. F., Frane, J., Kuntze, J., & Underwood, L. E. (2007). Long-term treatment with recombinant insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I in children with severe IGF-I deficiency due to growth hormone insensitivity. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 92, 902–910. doi:10.1210/jc.2006-1610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Collier, K. L., van Beusekom, G., Bos, H. M. W., & Sandfort, T. G. M. (2013). Sexual orientation and gender identity/expression related peer victimization in adolescence: A systematic review of associated psychosocial and health outcomes. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 299–317. doi:10.1080/00224499.2012.750639.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dubois, L., Kyvik, K. O., Girard, M., Tatone-Tokuda, F., Perusse, D., Hjelmborg, J., … Martin, N. G. (2012). Genetic and environmental contributions to weight, height, and BMI from birth to 19 years of age: An international study of over 12,000 twin pairs. PLoS One, 7, 1–12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030153.Google Scholar
- Entzel, P., Whitsel, E. A., Richardson, A., Tabor, J., Hallquist, S., Hussey, J., … Harris, K. M. (2009). Add Health Wave IV documentation: Cardiovascular and anthropometric measures. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/data/guides/Wave%20IV%20cardiovascular%20and%20anthropometric%20documentation%20110209.pdf.
- Fournier, M. E., Austin, S. B., Samples, C. L., Goodenow, C. S., Wylie, S. A., & Corliss, H. L. (2009). A comparison of weight-related behaviors among high school students who are homeless and non-homeless. Journal of School Health, 79, 466–473. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2009.00436.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H., Barkan, S. E., Muraco, A., & Hoy-Ellis, C. P. (2013). Health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults: Results from a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 1802–1809. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Galliher, R. V., Rostosky, S. S., & Hughes, H. K. (2004). School belonging, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms in adolescents: An examination of sex, sexual attraction status, and urbanicity. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, 235–245. doi:10.1023/B:JOYO.0000025322.11510.9d.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harris, K. M. (2009). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), Waves I & II, 1994–1996; Wave III, 2001–2002; Wave IV, 2007–2009 [Machine-readable data file and documentation]. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. doi:10.3886/ICPSR27021.v9.Google Scholar
- Harris, K. M. (2013). The Add Health Study: Design and accomplishments. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/data/guides/DesignPaperWIIV.pdf.
- Harris, K. M., Halpern, C. T., Whitsel, E., Hussey, J., Tabor, J., Entzel, P., & Udry, J. R. (2009). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health: Research design. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design.
- LeVay, S. (2010). Gay, straight, and the reason why: The science of sexual orientation. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.Google Scholar
- Li, G., Katz-Wise, S. L., & Calzo, J. P. (2014). The unjustified doubt of Add Health studies on the health disparities of non-heterosexual adolescents: Comment on Savin-Williams and Joyner (2014) [Letter to the Editor]. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 1023–1026. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0313-3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McFadden, D., & Pasanen, E. G. (1998). Comparison of the auditory systems of heterosexuals and homosexuals: Click-evoked otoacoustic emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95, 2709–2713. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.5.2709.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Poole, G. D., Matheson, D. H., & Cox, D. (2008). The psychology of health and health care: A Canadian perspective (3rd ed.). Toronto: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Preacher, K. J., & Leonardelli, G. J. (2001, March). Calculation for the Sobel test: An interactive calculation tool for mediation tests. Retrieved January 31, 2016 from http://quantpsy.org/sobel/sobel.htm.
- Questionnaire Codebooks for Waves I, II, III and IV. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2016, from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/codebooks.
- Rosario, M., Reisner, S. L., Corliss, H. L., Wypij, D., Frazier, A. L., & Austin, S. B. (2014). Disparities in depressive distress by sexual orientation in emerging adults: The roles of attachment and stress paradigms. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 901–916. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0129-6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Surkan, P. J., Ettinger, A. K., Hock, R. S., Ahmed, S., Strobino, D. M., & Minkovitz, C. S. (2014). Early maternal depressive symptoms and child growth trajectories: A longitudinal analysis of a nationally representative US birth cohort. BMC Pediatrics, 14, 185. doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-185.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Walker, J. L., Van Wyk, J. J., & Underwood, L. E. (1992). Stimulation of statural growth by recombinant insulin-like growth factor-I in a child with growth-hormone insensitivity syndrome (laron type). Journal of Pediatrics, 121, 641–646. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(05)81163-1.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wickrama, K. A. S., O’Neal, C. W., & Oshri, A. (2014). Are stressful developmental processes of youths leading to health problems amplified by genetic polymorphisms? The case of body mass index. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 1096–1109. doi:10.1007/s10964-014-0109-8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar