Religion is the cornerstone of many, if not most societies. It is the engine that drives faith, provides comfort and guidance, warms us when we are chilled by worry, soothes us when we experience loss, guides us when we are confused, and puts in perspective the mystery of all those unanswered questions.
It is quite the surprise, then, to discover that religion is now among the risk factors for obesity.
Study Shows Church Attendance
Associated with Obesity
A recent study has discovered that young adults who attend religious activities on a regular basis could be more likely to become obese in middle age than those peers who do not attend religious activities.
The study was conducted by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults and was made up of 2,433 younger male and female subjects. The group was followed for eighteen years and participation in religious activities was categorized as high (one time per week), medium (less than weekly but still regularly), and low (rarely or none).
It was found that young adults between the ages of twenty and thirty-two who reported a high participation were fifty percent more likely to be obese at middle age than those peers in the none category. The study also revealed that those in the high participation block tended to be African American females who had a higher body mass index.
The Benefits of Religious Involvement:
Live Longer and Happier
Before drawing firm conclusions that attendance at religious activities will ensure obesity at middle-age, it should be noted that those who are involved in religious activities have gained many positive outcomes from that involvement. People who are active in religious camaraderie tend to be happier overall, have lower rates of alcohol and tobacco use, and live longer.
In addition, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study did not conclude if involvement in religious activity leads to obesity at middle age, or if overweight men and women were more likely to participate in religious functions.
Speculation About the Link Between
Religion and Obesity
Researchers believe that some religious functions simply center on unhealthy or high calorie foods. It is possible that getting together to celebrate good works and happiness leads to dietary habits that promote obesity.
It is also believed that church gatherers have a more broad overall social network and therefore more opportunities to come together over food and drink.
Potlucks and Pot Bellies
Potlucks are often a staple at church social functions and realistically do not offer the best diet options. It is not unusual to see spaghetti, Swedish meatballs, potato or bean casseroles, or Jell-O salads on the buffet. There also a good number of pies, cakes, and cookies.
Overall, researchers are optimistic regarding the positive habits of the church. They quickly and readily point out that churches have infrastructures that are already available and groups of people who gather and offer support. Such a foundation can swiftly implement health interventions and programs for diet and physical activity.
Los Angeles Times - http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/24/news/la-heb-religion-weight-20110324 - accessed 8/7/12
NBCnews.com - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42256829/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/praise-lard-religion-linked-obesity-young-adults/ - accessed 8/7/12
Time Healthland - http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/24/why-going-to-church-can-make-you-fat/ - accessed 8/7/12
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Published On: September 07, 2012