Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter
March 24th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter

Young, religiously active people are more likely than their non-religious counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement.

What is unclear from the new research is why religion might be associated with overeating.

"Churches pay more attention to obvious vices like smoking or drinking," said Matthew Feinstein, lead author of the research and fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Our best guess about why is that...more frequent participation in church is associated with good works and people may be rewarding themselves with large meals that are more caloric in nature than we would like."

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. @N

    That was to all u fatties who dont believe in god

    March 25, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  2. @N

    All of u people who put eating in front of everything stop eating and live ur life.If u ditch church to eat and watch tv one day u wont able to go to church when needed because u cant lift up ur fat lazy butt.And dont cryin at me if u cant get off.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  3. aselfishpoet

    all the fat is mine, sayeth the lard

    nyuk nyuk nyuk πŸ™‚

    March 25, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  4. Drew

    This isn't necessary a casual relationship, aren't there likely some confounding factors? For example, people in rural parts of the county are often more religious and often heavier?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  5. GSA

    @derp – yup, Sikh Temples all have kitchens and they are free for all to join. As long as you are respectful you are welcome and can have all you can eat. We have a family of 4 on welfare that come to the temple in our area all the time. They don't know the language but they show up for lunch and I believe on certain nights dinner as well. Most of the kitchens are open all day long but only small snacks are available until lunch or dinner when the main meals are prepared. I would volunteer with dishes and clean-up after Sunday prayers when I was in university and then I would have lunch and the older women would pack me extra food to take with me since I was away from home, kept me from missing moms cooking.
    Beware, some temples are run by fundies and they tell ppl they must observe prayers if they want to eat, these ppl are wrong and are totally forgetting the point of the kitchen, to feed the ones that need it and to have the community come together and have meals that tighten the bond between ppl in the area no matter what race, religion or culture.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  6. Robert Hagedorn

    And you are uncertain of your opinions? Do a search: The First Scandal. Then click twice.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  7. Reality

    Does sitting our rears eating snacks and gulping beer while watching football, baseball, hockey and basketball games all year count as going to church? "Couch-potatoity"???

    March 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  8. Big Bob

    I don't mind the facts, Luke. Probably right. I wouldn't know cuz I'm an agnostic, thus I think I'm pretty objective when it comes to organized religion. I just take issue with the context. CNN bends over backwards to pander to Islam, but has no problem beating on Christianity. The Jews have no problem ridiculing themselves. It's helped them survive for centuries. So they aren't even in the equation as far as the article goes. Take a look at the fat and happy family in the picture and use your best guess as to whom the target is in this article. Bashing christians has become a fun sport for the MSM, but every additional bloody article regarding Islam makes them off limits to any kind of constructive critic. It's cowardly and seditious.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Harlan D

      Big Bob, you are forgetting that the USA is mostly Christian, which means a large number of ex-Christians who often have real grievances against Christianity.
      CNN doesn't pander much to Muslims. They don't mind showing plenty of bombings, etc. that put Muslims in a bad light. We tear them up in these blogs regularly.
      You are just whining like a little baby. Your religion has subverted our government, our schools, industries, businesses, media, etc., yet you are whining that you are somehow being picked on when you really ARE NOT.
      YOU are the oppressor here. YOU are the cowardly traitor here. YOU have no cause for complaint.
      YOU are full of shlt!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • papia

      Your point is right here...

      March 25, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  9. Reality

    Some of it is the evolutionary response to famine.

    e.g. the potato famine in Catholic Ireland with many of the starving coming to the fat-laden USA overflowing with high-calorie dairy products and red meat.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  10. Iqbal khan

    Read and gain knowledge...


    March 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Reality

      Read and gain knowledge about koranic-driven acts of terror and horror:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      β– "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade, 7C-19C, by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan. 3/2011.

      March 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • papia

      This validates your point, Reality.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    Research published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found people with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) scored lower on average in cognitive tests.
    Another study from 2003 by Halkjær et al. reported in "Intelligence Test Score and Educational Level in Relation to BMI Changes and Obesity" that education and intelligence, analyzed separately, were inversely related to BMI changes in both groups and to the development of obesity in the nonobese group.

    Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, said "Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

    Helmuth Nyborg commenting on the results of his study that found Atheists more intelligent than dogmatic believers said "I'm not saying that believing in God makes you dumber. My hypothesis is that people with a low intelligence are more easily drawn toward religions, which give answers that are certain, while people with a high intelligence are more skeptical".

    So obesity adversly affects intelligence.
    A lower IQ means one is more predisposed to religion.

    Or, to be blunt and undiplomatic:

    March 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Dina D

      blunt works for me...

      March 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • NL

      For me, not so much. It only gives the religious the excuse they need not to listen, and I can't say that I blame them much. Sorry, guys but that's how I feel.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • derp

      Fat, dumb and faithful


      March 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Sean T

      @NL – they need an excuse to not listen? Srsly?

      March 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • NL

      Sean T-
      The Bible predicts that people will mock them.

      Matthew 5:11 β€œBlessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      So, every insult they hear actually translates in their minds as validation that they are on the right track, and their ears automatically close. You might as well try reasoning with them that the devil doesn't exist after showing up on their door sporting Spock ears, a goatee, and a pointy tail. I realized this a while back and decided to stop being an enabler within their delusion. I'm not going to help them sell themselves as innocent victims of atheist haters.

      Most of the force behind their intolerance of atheists comes from their carefully constructed straw man that we are all 'angry', 'pathetic' people with 'empty' lives. Mockery only confirms their argument that a belief in God is necessary in order to be a good, happy person. Calling them stupid only plays into their hands. See what I mean?

      March 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  12. GSA

    Just a question to all? Do Christians and Catholics eat at church? Everytime or on special occasions? Just curious since as Sikhs we offer a kitchen, free to all and after prayers we always have a big lunch. Food is always great, typical Indian food, roti's, naan bread, daal, subjee, etc. MMMMM My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • derp

      I'm an atheist, but that lunch deal sounds pretty sweet. Do Sihks care if non believers stop by to glom on thier lunch?

      March 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • NL

      Jesus' example was to share a meal in memory of him. Catholics, and some other Christians, have formalized it in the eucharist, which has about as many calories as just smelling a good meal. Many churches have the potluck inst.itutionalized as a regular gathering of the congregation as a community, something that is easier to do with smaller groups than larger ones. I wonder if the mega-churches have this same issue?

      March 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  13. healthreform

    A European filmmaker has been reversing weight problems in NON diabetics with a Diabetes diet. It has been giving people who have a hard time losing weight a normal body weight fast

    It is now used in 10 countries. ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals and he shows how to reverse it

    if you are Diabetic or not just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET


    March 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  14. healthreform

    A European filmmaker has been reversing weight problems in NON diabetics with a Diabetes diet. It has been giving people who have a hard time losing weight a normal body weight fast

    It is now used in 10 countries. ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals and he shows how to reverse it

    if you are Diabetic or not just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    March 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • derp

      I guess you have never heard of Nutrisystem

      March 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  15. derp

    Just pray to become skinny. Problem solved!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • papia

      Good one! πŸ™‚

      March 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  16. NL

    Less exercise too. Most people can only find time to get to the gym, or sweat out a few pounds doing yard work, on the weekends. Strict observance of the Christian sabbath means doing nothing on Sunday, taking it even easier than the five days spent sitting at your desk during the rest of the week. It all adds up.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  17. CW

    One thing we christians will do is eat...you name it we have a gathering and a way to fatten you up.

    This is a funny story....the only thing I take from it is that gl-'ut-'tony is a sin...we all need to watch that. The Lord says our bodies are a temple...we need to treat them as such.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Walking Tall

      CW, your body looks like anything BUT a "temple". Seriously, you need help. Lots of help. Mental help for starters.

      March 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • NL

      My experience with potlucks is that you get compet.ition amongst the contributers of food. People fishing for compliments will choose their most tasty dishes which leads to less healthy choices. Then there is the piling of portions from everyone's dish upon your plate, and finishing it off out of politeness. Every potluck is made to feel like a mini-Thanksgiving. Dangerous if you want to control your calorie input, eh?

      March 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • NL

      Walking Tall-
      Be nice, CW is making an effort at polite conversation here.

      March 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Walking Tall

      NL – are you sure? Maybe that's not CW, then. Maybe it's an impostor...

      OK, CW, never mind. Your body is wonderful, like a giant pile of pancakes. πŸ˜‰

      March 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • NL

      Walking Tall-
      All I'm saying is don't complain about Christian intolerance when you're not willing to make an effort at civility. The relationship between believers and non-believers is dysfunctional, to say the least. As Dr. Phil likes to say someone has to be the hero, step up and try to end the cycle. CW made an effort, why can't you just accept that?

      March 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • CW

      @ NL,

      Wowww!!!...Thanks for that. Okay I know we don't agree on things relating to the Bible. My point was that it is a ashame that we as christians end up like this. The Bible does teach that our bodies are like temple and we are to take care of them. Gluttony is a sin for us Christians...unfortunately there are a lot of us including myself at times that over eat.

      Once again NL....I know that your not a believer...but I pray that one day you will believe...God Bless.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • NL

      You're welcome!
      Civil discussion is all I really want, but it's hard not to get caught up in the war of unkind words. I try to aim any mockery I have against ideas, not people. Hope you don't take anything I say as a personal attack, OK?

      Nobody can make an intelligent case for gluttony, so I'm with you there. Same for many forms of overindulgence. I know people who spend more money on their pets than on their kids. More time with their pets too. That seems selfish to me.

      Is it all right if I hope that you see the same light I do some day? πŸ˜‰

      March 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • sherry

      I was just discussing this very issue with a coworker today. My faith is an integral part of my life and I could not imagine living a life where I thought there was no God and where factors like luck and chance controlled those life events that I could not control on my own. At any rate, yes, it is true that there are overweight people in the church. I've never done a comparison with non-Christians so I don't know how specific this problem is for faith-based people, however it is true that gluttony is just as much a sin as being a thief, a drunk, or a liar. A sin is a sin, and we all have to work on improving those problem areas in our lives and relationships.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • NL

      When chance happens to play against you there is no worry that, maybe, you're doing something wrong, and when it goes your way there is no swelling of the head that comes with thinking that you are somehow 'special'. A Christian and an atheist still have to take control of their own lives as best as they can. Both still have to choose not to pile plates up, and choose to live a more healthy lifestyle. I will say, however, that once you drop the idea that a new life and a new body await you after you die there really is no excuse not to take care of the body you do have, and to live this life to the fullest. That's where an atheist finds joy.

      I wouldn't get too worked up about gluttony being a Christian problem though. North Americans in general tend to overeat because we have an over abundance of food and a lot of it is unhealthy, even what the church ladies make. 'Comfort food' to the max, am I right? You may want to address the problem at potlucks of compet.ition, people trying to out do each other fishing for compliments. Taken too far this isn't very healthy for your congregation, right?

      March 25, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  18. Nicholas Potts

    Potluck dinners. Church people often tend to go out to eat after church and have a lot of chill time over food. whether it is sunday lunch or wednesday night 2nd dinner. I think it is that 2nd dinner that helps the "fatness." Haha. I am a Christian, and I know this for a fact...but also, Pastor's need to step it up in mentioning that we are stewards of our body, God gave us this body (often wretched, but mind is quite nice haha), so we should take care of it, take care of ourselves. Jesus said that we ought to love God with our "heart, mind, soul, strength" ...meaning, our emotions, thoughts, spiritual acts, and physical acts all should be to the glory of God. This is why we need to diet, exercise and taking good care of ourselves, because it is also an act of worship in the life of a Christian.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Jarod

      ...because everyday is the last supper.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • sherry

      There is not all the eating going on that you might think. I do think the link between the Bible Belt and the Diabetes Belt can't be ignored. I am a Christian who has lived all over the world and I will tell you that the location of the church has a lot to do with it.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • KJ

      Agree with Nicholas and Sherry. I'm willing to bet the overweight churchgoers are predominantly in the Bible Belt or in other areas where the economy is stagnant, education is not valued and the belief is that there is no personal power, even that which the rest of us might believe is bestowed by God. So they're trapped by their own rigid mindset. I feel bad for them and am glad that I was raised to be religious, educated, active and independent. Yes, that is possible. .

      March 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  19. Big Bob

    It's so easy to bash Christians eh CNN? No death threats! Fatter? Fatter? What are you, like 12?

    You stink. And by the way, I'm an agnostic, but I know where the superior western culture came from.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Luke

      So you are angered by data driven facts? Says a lot, Bob. Calm down. It's just data.

      March 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • bob is a fatty

      Fat much?

      March 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • NL

      If some Christians are the ones bringing this concern to light then how is this "bashing". Have you seen the "My Take: When the fat girl got mad at God" article here? This is their own concern and they have every right to wish to discuss it, right?

      March 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jarod

      bob, um... i didn't see "christians" mentioned in the article anywhere. seeing how you are a bit too defensive this article must hit close to home. I agree that the more religous members in my family are also more obese. I remember our church gave dinners on wednesday that we went to and then every sunday after church we'd go to hometown buffet... now i rarely goto church... and thus rarely overeat.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • papia

      Here is your explanation big Bob.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  20. Normon

    Prayer Pilates!

    March 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • dirkK

      Don't you mean 'prayerlates?'

      March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.