– Overview –
All over the world, there are hundreds of millions of people that struggle with being overweight. For the first time in the history of the world, more people are dying each year from being overfed rather than underfed.
There are a variety of different factors that can cause weight gain ranging from genetics to lifestyle. However, recent research suggests a new body of evidence that indicates in some religions around the world there is an increased correlation with weight gain and religion.
There are a variety of different variables to unpack when looking at the data, and it is not fair to any religion to say that if you practice a religion, you will become overweight.
Here are some examples of various religions around the world and obesity issues:
In a recent study, over 5,500 middle aged Catholic men were studied to find out if their religious activity had anything to do with weight gain. In a somewhat surprising answer, the study found that there was an increased correlation between the amount of times a person attended a religious event with the odds that they were overweight.
Although at first glance it is difficult to draw a reason for the correlation here, there are actually several factors that could influence this. First of all, many religions have customs where large events center around food. Almost all of the religions around the world have some food restrictions, but when large groups of people get together food is often served. In more developed nations, many times this food is not healthy at all.
Another reason that many people that practice the Roman Catholic religion may be more prone to being overweight is the fact that the church is supposed to be welcoming of all people. Although this typically is in reference to a person’s past, it is also conducive to those that are overweight. People that are overweight or obese often feel a stigma from other parts of our culture that they do not feel in a church group setting.
Another large world religion that has a correlation between religious activity and weight gain is the Sikh religion.
A recent study out of UCLA looked at several hundred people who had immigrated to the United States and were practicing the Sikh religion. The study also looked at people around the world practicing other religions such as Hinduism and Islam. The results of the study showed that the people living in the United States practicing the Sikh religion were 1.53 times more likely to be overweight than people in the same demographics who were not as religiously active.
This study cited the fact that many people practicing the Sikh religion may concentrate on more important vices to get out of their life than gluttony. The Sikh religion has several restrictions on members, such as the cutting of hair. With all of the different restrictions on practicing members, it is reasonable to expect that they would have less willpower when it comes to food.
In the same study out of UCLA, the religion of Islam was also looked at.
The findings of the study were that Islam was one of the only religions that did not see a correlation between regular religious practice and weight gain. Muslims have about a 40 day period each year where they conduct a partial fast. There are also many restrictions on foods like pork that practicing Muslims are not allowed to eat. Islam is one of the only religions where many social gatherings are not centered around food at a table.
This correlation makes sense in that it is not explicitly people practicing religious tradition that makes them overweight, but it is the fact that so many social gathering center around food.
– Study Findings –
The studies that were conducted on religious people mentioned here have some interesting facts for those that practice religion. It is important to note that the studies themselves have some shortcomings.
The study out of UCLA admits that their sample size may not be large enough the draw conclusions about an entire population. However, it is clear that there is some correlation between religious activity and being more overweight than the rest of the population. It is also important to note that many people that practice religions of various forms are often older and less educated than those that do not. Again, that does not mean that people practicing any religion are not educated.
It simply means that on average, a person practicing a religion is less educated than one that does not. This fact is important because less educated people also tend to be more overweight than the rest of the population.
We can look at the sample that was studied and draw a conclusion that it is not the fact of practicing a religion that makes people overweight, rather that religion draws people in that tend to be overweight in the first place. There are more studies that are needed on the subject, but there seems to be a clear correlation in the finding that the more active a person is in their religion, the more overweight they are outside of people practicing Islam.
– Final Thoughts –
Overall, religions are a huge influence in our culture around the world. There are billions of people that practice some sort of religion across the globe. The studies mentioned here show a correlation between the amount of religious activity a person participates in with the odds that they will be overweight.
One exception to this rule is the religion of Islam. Unlike other religions, practicing Muslims place specific restrictions on the type of food members can eat along with the time of day they can eat as well. It is also important to note that religious activity in itself is not going to make a person overweight.
However, overeating at every religious event a person attends can. Especially in the developed world, religious events are often times as much about bringing and eating food as they are practicing a religion, and this is one of the central reasons why it is clear that this correlation between weight gain and religious activity exists.
Below are some other links you might be interested in as well:
- Here’s one that explains the possible reasons why weight loss may not be working well for you,
- This site has the weight loss percentage calculator to track your weight process,
- Here’s another page that has a bunch of delicious ideal breakfast recipes that will help you lose weight successfully,
- & this one, for some awesome tips on how to lose weight in just one week.
- Ways to improve your motivation to continue losing weight.