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Ethnic and sexual orientation inequalities in mental health-obesity comorbidity, self-harm, and attempted suicide among British adolescents.

PURPOSE: Mental illness and obesity (MH-OB) may co-occur in adolescence and have a strong risk to track into adulthood. Using an intersectional framework, we explored associations between ethnic-sexual identities and MH-OB comorbidity in adolescents. We examined the risk of self-harm (SH) and attempted suicide (AS) by comorbidity status and ethnic-sexual identities.

METHODS: Participants included 9,789 adolescents (aged 17 years) from the UK-wide Millennium Cohort Study with data on self-identified ethnicity and sexuality. Participants were categorised as White-heterosexual, White-sexual minority (SM), Ethnic Minority (EM) heterosexual or EM-SM adolescents. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine associations between 1.dual ethnic-sexual identities and MH-OB comorbidity, 2.risk for self-harm (or attempted suicide) in relation to comorbidity and ethnic-sexual identities (including interactions between the comorbidity and ethnic-sexual identities variables to assess whether risk for self-harm differed by ethnic-sexual identities and comorbidity status).

RESULTS: Comorbidity was higher among White-SM (OR = 3.73, 95%CI 2.42-5.75) and EM-SM (OR = 1.96, 1.03-3.73) adolescents. SM identities (OR = 3.02, 2.41-3.78 for White-SM) and having comorbidity (OR = 2.83, 2.03-3.95) were independently associated with SH or AS. Risk of SH among White-heterosexual individuals was greater among comorbid individuals (40%) relative to non-comorbid individuals (19%). Risk of SH was higher in SM individuals (58% vs. 41% in White-SM and 50% vs. 29% in EM-SM individuals with and without comorbidity, respectively). Risk of AS was 5% and 19% in comorbid and non-comorbid White-heterosexual individuals, respectively; the corresponding figures for White-SM individuals were 14% and 17%.

CONCLUSION: Irrespective of ethnicity, SM adolescents have a significantly greater risk of SH and AS. Comorbidity further amplifies this risk.

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