A recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University found a link between religious activity and obesity in men and women who, at the start of the study, were between the ages of 20 and 32 and of normal weight. After eighteen years of follow-up, however, those participants who had attended a religious function at least once a week were 50 percent more likely to be obese than those who had not participated in weekly religious activities.
The reason for the above finding is unknown although some believe that church potlucks and other religious gatherings centered around food – i.e., decadent, high-calorie, high-sodium “comfort foods” which can lead to weight gain – could be a factor. And most of us are aware of the adverse health effects of carrying excess weight (e.g., an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, etc.) as well as the economic burden that is placed on our healthcare system to treat individuals who are overweight or obese. For that reason, congregations in our state must continue to promote health as a practice of our faith and to support one another in our efforts to be physically active and to eat healthily.
To read the article in its entirety, please click here. To get involved in the North Carolina Council of Churches’ statewide movement to improve the health of clergy and congregants, please click here.
-Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator