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Publication Date




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JMIR Research Protocols






e41199 (1-21)


Background: Previous research has identified health disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual women, including increased rates of obesity and binge eating in sexual minority women. Established predictors of binge eating behavior include negative emotions and sociocultural processes; however, these studies are generally conducted in samples of young women where sexual identity is not known or reported. There is a dearth of research evaluating how sexual minority–specific factors (eg, minority stress and connectedness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community) may affect binge eating in sexual minority women. In addition, no studies have examined these processes in racially diverse samples or considered how intersecting minority identities (eg, Black and sexual minority) may affect eating behaviors.

Objective: The Health and Experiences in Real Life (HER Life) Project aims to clarify real-world predictors of binge eating in young heterosexual and sexual minority women using ecological momentary assessment. The role of affective, social, and health behavior factors in binge eating will be examined for all women (aim 1), and sexual minority–specific predictors will also be considered for sexual minority women participants (aim 2). Person-level moderators of race, body- and eating-related factors, and sexual minority–specific factors will also be examined to better understand how real-world binge eating predictors may differ for various demographic groups (aim 3).

Methods: Researchers aim to recruit 150 sexual minority and 150 heterosexual women from across the United States, including at least 50 Black women for each group, using web-based recruitment methods. The eligibility criteria include identifying as a woman, being aged between 18 and 30 years, and having had at least two binge eating episodes in the last 2 weeks. Participants must endorse being only or mostly attracted to men (considered heterosexual) or only or mostly attracted to women or having a current or most recent female partner (considered sexual minority). Eligible participants complete an initial web-based baseline survey and then 14 days of ecological momentary assessment involving the completion of a morning and before-bed survey and 5 prompted surveys per day as well as a user-initiated survey after binge eating episodes. The data will be analyzed using a series of multilevel models.

Results: Data collection started in February 2021. We have currently enrolled 129 sexual minority women and 146 heterosexual women. Data collection is expected to conclude in fall 2022.

Conclusions: The Health and Experiences in Real Life Project aims to elucidate potential differences between sexual minority and heterosexual women in within-person factors predicting binge eating and inform eating disorder interventions for sexual minority women. The challenges in recruiting sexual minority women, including the determination of eligibility criteria and considerations for remote data collection, are discussed.

International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/41199


© Kristin E. Heron, Abby L. Braitman, Charlotte A. Dawson, Cassidy M. Sandoval, Lauren V. Butler, Alicia Moulder, Robin J. Lewis. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 21.10.2022.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Data Availability

Article States: Data will be available from the principal investigator upon reasonable request.

Original Publication Citation

Heron, K. E., Braitman, A. L., Dawson, C. A., Sandoval, C. M., Butler, L. V., Moulder, A., & Lewis, R. J. (2022). Rationale and design of an ecological momentary assessment study examining predictors of binge eating among sexual minority and heterosexual young women: Protocol for the Health and Experiences in Real Life (HER Life) study. JMIR Research Protocols, 11(10), 1-21, Article e41199.


0000-0002-7452-876X (Heron), 0000-0003-2259-1094 (Braitman), 0000-0003-4253-2665 (Butler), 0000-0002-7037-1232 (Moulder), 0000-0003-4010-9396 (Lewis)