Nurse researching on laptop.

Research Roundup: September 2021

September 27, 2021

Eating Disorders and Sexual Minority Status 

Columbia Nursing researchers investigated the interplay between psychological factors and disordered eating among sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals in two studies recently published in Eating Behaviors.  

In their study, Professor Tonda Hughes, PhD, Columbia Nursing PhD student April Ancheta, and other colleagues looked at stressors associated with sexual minority status and eating behaviors in a diverse group of more than 600 cisgender sexual minority women (SMW) from the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women study. Discrimination and internalized homophobia were not tied to overeating or binge eating, but higher levels of stigma consciousness were linked to greater likelihood of overeating. When examining racial/ethnic differences, LatinX SMW with higher stigma consciousness were more likely to report overeating than White or Black SMW. 

The other study, by Professor Walter Bockting, PhD, and colleagues from Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, included 287 transgender and gender nonbinary individuals, nearly 30% of whom reported current eating-related psychopathology. The more comfortable a person was with their gender identity and appearance, the less likely they were to report disordered eating behaviors. But individuals with greater internalized transphobia were more likely to have eating-related symptoms. 

Premature Birth Leaves Mark on Mom’s Epigenome 

Even years after giving birth, mothers who delivered preterm have epigenetic differences from mothers of term infants, according to new findings from Columbia Nursing published in BMC Genomic Data. Assistant Professor Veronica Barcelona, Professor Jacquelyn Y. Taylor, and their colleagues looked at DNA methylation—a mechanism implicated in altering gene expression in response to behavioral and environmental factors—in Black mothers of 3- to 5-year-olds and found differences in gene networks related to neurogenesis and sensory processing.