I’ve figured out the conservative definition of “government waste.” For them, that means “programs or studies that help people you don’t like.” (More)

Take lesbians, for example. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that lesbian women aged 20-44 are twice as likely to be obese as heterosexual or bisexual women in the same age group. That study reviewed data from previous research and concluded there was “an urgent need for weight-reduction interventions that target the high-risk group of sexual-minority women.” However, the authors noted that they “do not provide specific information for the development of culturally appropriate interventions for this population,” because they did not have enough data on specific causes of obesity among lesbian women.

Enter the National Institutes of Health, who in 2011 and 2012 approved a total of $1.5 million for a five-year study to explore those causes, according to the conservative CNSNews.com. Cue outrage about “government” waste, at The Daily Caller, the Washington Times, Political Outcast, and elsewhere in the right-wing media.

It’s possible the story isn’t even true, as CNS News provides no links and every other story about this – even the one at MSNNow – traces back to CNSNews.com. But the study probably is happening … and I’d love to know more about it.

Obesity is a serious public health issue, no matter what Sarah Palin and other conservative blowhards say. Estimates vary depending on the calculations used, but last year Reuters reported that obesity adds $190 billion, or 20.6%, to U.S. health care spending each year. If conservatives actually cared about the federal deficit – and they don’t, except as an excuse to cut taxes for the rich and cut spending for everyone else – they would applaud any research that helps reduce obesity.

But a quick perusal of the comments in these news stories left me dashing to the BPI hot tub faculty lounge squirrel bath. I’ll summarize, to save your blood pressure:

  • Who cares why lesbians are fat?
  • Lesbians are fat because they eat too much. Send me the $1.5 million.
  • They’re not fat because they’re lesbians. They’re lesbians because they’re too fat to find a man.

There are some other common themes having to do with lesbians’ ‘diet,’ but they’re not family-friendly. And, of course there’s this:

  • Why is Obama wasting money studying fat lesbians when he’s shutting down White House tours?

Because White House tours should take priority over public health research. Unless it’s public health research for something important, like male pattern baldness. You know, something serious that affects real people like the old white men who are the conservative base.

Previous researchers have offered several theories to explain higher obesity rates among lesbian women. Some suggested lesbian women are more physically active – all those softball games, y’know – and thus more muscular, a factor often missed in female body mass index estimates. Other suggested lesbian women may have lower incomes, and thus be more likely to be obese along with other lower-income women. Others said lesbian women may simply be less worried about male-driven body image ideals. More research might prove some or all of those, or find other reasons.

But hey, why waste money on Those People when some upstanding, tax-paying, Real American tourist might want to walk through the White House.

Good day and good nuts.