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LGB Brits drink and smoke more and have worse mental health than straight people, says study

A higher proportion of LGB adults (7%) reported ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health compared with heterosexual adults (6%).

2021-07-07

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pexels

A new NHS study has outlined the health inequalities between lesbian, gay and bisexual people and their straight counterparts.

The report was published yesterday by NHS Digital. Its data is based on a representative sample of 58,226 adults aged 16 and over who participated in the Health Survey for England (HSE)1 between 2011–2018; 2% identified as LGB.

According to the findings, LGB people are more likely to drink and smoke than straight people, and have worse mental health.

Meanwhile, LGBs had lower average mental well-being scores (48.9) compared with heterosexuals (51.4), with LGB women reporting the lowest (47.3).

In overall health terms, a higher proportion of LGBs (7%) reported ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health compared with heterosexuals (6%).

"Important differences"

Elsewhere, the study found that LGBs were more likely to drink at levels that put them at increased or higher risk of alcohol-related harm (more than 14 units in the last week): 32% of LGBs compared with 24% of heterosexual adults.

The study also found that a lower proportion of LGB adults were overweight or obese (51%) than heterosexuals (63%), while the prevalence of limiting longstanding illness was higher among LGBs (26%) than heterosexuals (22%).

NHS Digital’s Chief Statistician Chris Roebuck commented: “One of the biggest benefits to collecting and publishing health data is the ability to highlight health inequalities.

“We’re pleased to be able to publish these LGB statistics for the first time, which show important differences in health status and behaviours.”

The study was carried out by NatCen in conjunction with University College London (UCL).