Religiously Attend House of Worship? Watch Out, You May Get Fat

Who would ever think that your religion could be linked to whether you are obese?  But apparently, it's true.

A new study has found that among many racial and ethnic groups, "Research has shown that religious practices and religiosity (are) associated with obesity and greater body weight," according to a story at newswise.com.

No one, however, has studied this link in Asian Indians until now, and the findings of this new study reveal that "religiosity in Hindus and Sikhs — but not Muslims — appears to be an independent factor associated with being overweight or obese."

"These different subgroups have different practices: Muslims may abstain from alcohol or avoid pork, and Hindus and Sikhs may eat only plant foods," newswise.com quotes Dr. Nazleen Bharmal, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. and primary investigator. "We were surprised to find an association between religiosity and obesity for Hindus and Sikhs but not Muslims." 

So why does this curious thing happen?  Researchers think people who are more religious, in any religion, "may be more likely to be overweight or obese because religious organizations tend to place greater emphasis on avoiding vices other than gluttony."

They also may provide a safe shelter for those seeking refuge from the social stigma of obesity, and finally, if my church, Presbyterian, is any example, religious gatherings often involve the consumption of food and drink, researchers speculate.

So, if you go to church or synagogue or mosque every week, are you fated to become overweight or obese?  Highly unlikely.  It's just that these places, because of their welcoming attitudes and support, tend to draw people who could benefit from a space where they are accepted, regardless of their weight, or age, or gender.

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