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Does Religion Increase the Prevalence and Incidence of Obesity in Adulthood?

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Abstract:

Previous research reveals that religion in America is related to variations in body weight. This article examines the relationships between religion and both body mass index (BMI) and obesity, which have increased in prevalence in the United States over the past two decades. Using longitudinal data from a national sample of adults, this study prospectively examines whether dimensions of religious life are associated with weight gain and the development of obesity during eight years of follow-up. We examine four dimensions of religiosity (attendance, salience, media practice, and consolation) and religious affiliation. Ordinary least squares regression analyses reveal that high levels of religious media practice are associated with higher BMI in women. Logistic regression analyses reveal that high levels of religious media practice and affiliation with a Baptist denomination increased the risk of obesity for women, but that a high level of religious consolation reduced the risk of obesity incidence for men. Attendance at religious services was associated with a lower risk of the incidence of obesity for women, suggesting the importance of studying links between dimensions of religious life and body weight.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00305.x

Affiliations: 1: Krista M. C. Cline is a graduate student in sociology and gerontology at Purdue University, Stone Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059., Email: clarkk@cla.purdue.edu 2: Kenneth F. Ferraro is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Aging and the Life Course, Stone Hall, 700 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059., Email: ferraro@purdue.edu

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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