Surprisingly (or not, actually), the researchers are relatively clueless as to why there's a connection.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Warning: Spending too much time at church may be harmful to your health.
A new study has found that young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age compared with those who don’t take part in any religious events.
“We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity, but the upshot of these findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention,” said Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity.”
The study tracked 2,433 young men and women for 18 years in Chicago, Minneapolis, Birmingham, Ala., and Oakland, Calif.
In the study, “frequent” religious participation meant attending at least one event per week. Most, but not all of the participants, were Christians — reflecting the dominant religion in the United States, Feinstein said.
Courtney Parker, the catering manager for the 20,000-member Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, said he’s not entirely surprised by the study’s results. Parker suspects there may be a historical connection between over-eating and going to church. In years gone by, so many things were taboo — but not eating, Parker said.
Years ago, “church services ran long,” Parker said. “So the first thing you do is go eat, and then you go to sleep.”
I think we're looking at correlation here rather than causation. When you consider that as of 2009, 63% of Americans were considered obese, but that only 43% of Americans attended weekly Church services, you're bound to have overlap. Then again, at least as far as Catholics are concerned, you've got Lenten Fish Fry's, donuts after Sunday Mass, funeral luncheons, bake sales...hmmm. Maybe there is something to this study after all.
I think a more interesting study would be to see how many Catholic bloggers are fatties. Compare BMI to number of posts per week. Or per day even. I bet my BMI has increased since I started blogging.
All of a sudden, I'm very concerned for Fr. Z and the Archbold brothers.
Perhaps us Catholic bloggers ought to invest in some work-out equipment that will allow the freedom to blog, while at the same time, get in significant exercise time. Like the Recombinant Lifecycle Laptop with 4G Wi-Fi Internet Access.
Lose weight while gaining hits. A win-win!
And if that doesn't appeal to you, there's always Pole-dancing for Jesus!