The nation’s churches have a weight problem.
In one study of some 5,500 women and men ages 45 to 84, participants were more likely to be obese the more religiously active they were. Each step of the way, from those never attending worship to those attending weekly, greater religious activity was associated with significantly higher rates of obesity.
The integral role food plays in many religious rituals and social functions and a desire not to stigmatize overweight members are among the reasons researchers offer for this anomaly in findings related to religion and health.
The only sermons that would get less approval than those asking members to cut back on eating would be those asking for money, said Shanna Granstra, a Baylor University researcher studying religion and obesity.
People who attended services or otherwise participated in organized religion weekly were 62 percent more like to be obese than those who never participated, according to data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis of adults ages 45 to 84 sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
In a separate study of 2,500 healthy women and men, researchers following up with participants 18 years later found 32 percent of frequent worship attenders became obese. In comparison, just 22 percent of non-attenders became obese, Fitchett reported. The data was taken from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study funded by the heart and lung institute.
Unhealthy eating is lower on the list of pastoral concerns, researchers say, than problems like drug and alcohol abuse, which have greater potential for destroying the lives of individuals, families and other members of the community.
via Religion and Obesity; Report Associates Religious Activity With Weight Gain
So… take a look at your church overall. Is your church fat?