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03/25/2011

Religious Belief Makes You Fat?

According to a story in the L.A. Times Booster Shots blog, it would appear that religious belief is strongly correlated with packing on the pounds. Perhaps it’s all those church picnics with fried chicken and potato salad.

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According to data presented at the American Heart Association’s meeting in Atlanta this week, younger adults who score high for religiosity were 50% more likely to be obese at mid-life compared to those low on the religious belief scale. Even controlling for some of the most important biological and social determinants for obesity (race, education, income and initial BMI), the relationship remains.

Of course, this isn’t an argument against religious belief or even an argument that religion is hazardous to your health. It’s a correlation. But the important question is what OTHER features of those who are highly religious result in obesity later in life? There is some causal factor that we just don’t understand yet.

But based on this data you can bet that there’s going to be an easy way to read the Bible on the treadmill coming your way soon or perhaps a merging of Bible study with Weight Watchers meetings.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD

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