A recent study suggests that individuals who attend religious services on a regular basis, like those offered in church, may be at higher risk of developing obesity later in life, particularly in middle age. The study's author says he does not mean to suggest that there is a direct link between attending religious services and becoming obese, nor does he say that the study suggests that "being religious" is a risk factor for obesity. He was surprised to find this outcome though, considering that most people who are committed to religion are usually healthier than the general populace.
The author of the study, a medical student, does believe that the lesson to be learned is more related to particular groups of individuals who are religious and may be at high risk for significant obesity issues. The theories of why a particular subset of religious people may become obese over time include:
- These individuals may spend most of their time in church and then also sitting for bible study, meaning they are extremely sedentary in the name of "religious pursuit"
- The mere fact that they spend a lot of time in church also means a lot of time partaking of feasts that often offer less healthy foods.
The author hopes that this study will inspire churches and other places of worship to lecture, discuss and educate attendees about weight issues, healthy eating and healthy habits. A regular religious gathering is a perfect opportunity to link the concepts of devotion to God and caring for ones' health, since you only get one body (from God). Pastors that are in poor neighborhoods can take advantage of their time at the pulpit and discuss how being healthy is indeed connected to being more Godly. They can also set up support groups, education groups, taste testing of healthy food opportunities and even help members to create mentorships with members who can provide further guidance.
Personal note: I think every church, synagogue, mosque and place of worship should have a nutrition series ongoing for singles and families.