Church suppers will get you every time

We acknowledge falling into the trap of academic public relations in telling you this, but a study out of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine today says people who participate in religious activities are more likely to be obese.

But does that mean that participating in religious activities makes you fat?

“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,” said Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator.

The study tracked 2,500 men and women over 18 years who were 50 percent more likely to be obese by middle age after adjusting for differences in age, race, sex, education, income, and baseline body mass index, the survey said.

The study also acknowledges that “previous studies have shown religious people tend to live longer than those who aren’t religious, in part because they tend to smoke less.”

  • Noelle

    For some reason, this seems like a stretch to me. I’d like to see statistics on the education levels and geographic locations of their sample group – I think those might be more closely related with obesity levels than simply “regular participation in religious activities.”

  • Nick

    In all honesty, it seems unlikely that religion makes you fat. Perhaps it’s not that religion makes you more likely to be overweight, but being overweight makes you more likely to be religious?

  • John P.

    Or, does that mean that being fat makes you participate in religious activities?

    Praying for a different metabolism or the strength to resist brownies perhaps? More likely the stuff Nick mentioned.

    I sure hope there was a serious point to this study. If not, the people who fund Northwestern should ask some fat folks to pray that the research decision makers at Northwestern will receive some divine guidance on these matters.

  • vjacobsen

    Correlation, not causation.

    Placed into a larger context of demographics of church goers, this could be interesting.

  • Chris N.


    I’m inclined to agree with you, but the quote says they adjusted for education and income. Doesn’t say anything about region, though, so it’s possible that where their subjects lived could have had some effect.

    @John P.

    Just speculation on my part, but I would imagine that the initial goal of the study was to look into what demographic information correlates to obesity, not to find out specifically whether being religious correlates to being obese.

  • SkinnyJesus

    The church fattens em up and preys on those who pray.

    Fasting then binging?

    Pancakes anyone? Donut Sunday? Bake Sales? How about the Lenten Fish Fry? a little batter on that?