A study from a Chicago university discovered recently that there is a link between middle-age obesity and regular church attendance.
The study, Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, was conducted by fourth year student Matthew Feinstein of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, The Daily Mail said.
The paper concluded that there is a 50 percent higher likelihood that regular churchgoers will become obese by middle age compared to those who are nonreligious, according to The Daily Mail.
The study was included among a number of other reports that had been presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions in Atlanta, The Los Angeles Times said.
No explanation was given for the findings, although it was pointed out that oftentimes many churches allow eating during service.
The study looked into the lives of 2,433 people who came from Minneapolis, Chicago, Alabama, Birmingham and Oakland, California, according to The Daily Mail.
The test group was followed for 18 years and were ranked by their church attendance in the following categories: High (weekly to more frequent church attendance), medium (regular but not weekly church attendance), low (rare church attendance) and none, The Los Angeles Times said.
The findings noted that young adults ranging in age from 20 to 32 who were on the high category regarding church attendance were 50 percent more likely to be obese when they reached middle age, compared to those who never go to church, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The findings remained consisted even after the researchers made adjustments for race, sex, age, income, education and the person’s body mass index from the start of the study, according to the Los Angeles Times.
By the second year of the study, a profile of those participants who tended to be in the high level of churchgoers indicated that they tend to be black females with a higher BMI, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Feinstein did not give definite reasons to explain why high church participation is linked to obesity. He did say in a news release, “It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Courtney Parker, catering manager of the Apostolic Church of God (20,000 members) in Woodlawn said that historically, church services were very long, and so people were allowed to eat while hearing the gospel, The Daily Mail reported.
Parker told Sun Times, “[T]he first thing you do is go eat, and then you go to sleep,” according to The Daily Mail.
Upshot of study
Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times that there is an upshot to the study, “[T]hese findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
In fact a number of religious groups have engaged in exercise programs including jazzercise, belly dancing, zumba and pole dancing (see http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/03/former-stripper-teaches-pole-fitness-for-jesus-class-16294).
Other studies have shown definite health benefits that churchgoers enjoy, according to Feinstein. For example, churchgoers smoke less, live longer and enjoy better mental health, The Daily Mail said.