Children and teens are weighed down by media pressure to have the ideal body.
Children and teens are weighed down by media pressure to have the ideal body. Brenda Strong

Religion linked to obesity: study

RELIGION may turn a devotee into many things, devoted, angelical or satanical - but apparently it could also make one fat.

That is the gist of research findings from a study conducted by Southern Cross University and the University of New England.

The study looked into the relationship between religious beliefs and obesity.

From analysing the data of more than 9000 adults, the study found Baptist men had a higher body mass index compared to non-religious males.

BMI is an approximation of a person's body fat using measurements of height and weight.

"We observed that some religious denominations, namely Baptist and Catholic men and other Christian women had, on average, higher BMIs," the study stated.

"We also observed that non-Christian women, on average, had lower BMIs."

The study found no evidence of a relationship between religious attendance and BMI among women.

But Dr Michael Kortt, of the Southern Cross University Business School, said he found a negative relationship between how important a woman rates religion and their BMI.

"Perhaps this finding reflects that the importance women attach to religion may help to control excessive eating," he said.

Dr Kortt said the study was limited in the conclusions it could draw about the causality between a person's weight and their religious denomination.

"Further research is required to fully understand the influence that religion may exert on BMI and what role religious organisations can be play in helping to combat the Australian obesity epidemic," he said.

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