A US study into why 75% of lesbians are obese or overweight, has reached its fourth year of funding, and recommends that athletic programmes should be more inclusive of lesbians.

Over the past few years, several pieces of research have shown lesbians are more likely to be obese compared to gay and bisexual men.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, has received ongoing grants administered by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity.

The project is being led by S Bryn Austin, Director of Fellowship Research Training in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Having previously found that there is a “striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities,” and that gay and bisexual men had a “greater desire for toned muscles”, the study has now said lesbians are more likely to have “athletic low self-esteem”.

LGBT people have found to be 46-76% less likely to be on a sports team due to “gender nonconformity and athletic self-esteem.”

Other research out of the project finds that lesbians are more likely to see themselves as a healthy weight, even if they are not.

Conclusions listed included:”Physical activity contexts should be modified to welcome sexual minority males and females.”

Research on the project will continue until 2016 and analyses data from 5,272 males and 7,507 females