Does Religion Make You Fat?

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Religion may be good for the soul, but is it good for the body? According to a new study, the answer is no. It seems praising God may increase your chances of becoming obese.

Researchers at Northwestern University came to this conclusion after following 2,433 young men and women starting at ages 20 – 32 for a period 18 years. While all study subjects were at a normal body weight at the beginning of the study, those who went to church functions at least once a week were more likely to be obese, 50% more likely, as a matter of fact.

 “Our main finding was that people with a high frequency of religious participation in young adulthood were 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age than those with no religious participation in young adulthood,” says Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator. “And that is true even after we adjusted for variables like age, race, gender, education, income, and baseline body mass index.”

So, what are the theories behind churchgoers unusually high rate of obesity? While nothing’s certain, researchers suspect the high-calorie food common at potluck dinners.

“We didn’t look specifically at the potluck factor, but anecdotally, we know that oftentimes at these religious gatherings people will eat traditional comfort foods which are often high in fat and calories and salt,” Feinstein said. “But, again, that’s not something we looked at in this particular study.”

msnbc.com

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