Studying the Weight of Prayer

For by these he judges the people; He gives food in abundance.”  Job 36:31

According to a recent study from Northwestern University, participation in religious activities may increase the chances for young adults to become obese by as much as 50 percent. The research indicates that religion may lead to obesity rather than obesity serving as an introduction to prayer.

The study followed 2,433 men and women for 18 years. Making the proper adjustments to differences in age, race, sex, education, income, and baseline body mass index, the researchers concluded that young adults with active participation in religion were 50 percent more likely to be obese by middle age. “High frequency” was defined as participating in a religious function at least once a week.

According to Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine: “We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity, but the upshot is these findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention. 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 study does not suggest an overall unhealthy lifestyle among the devout.  In fact other studies have shown religious people live longer for a multitude of reasons. This study will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.