How can religion lead to obesity? Or is it that fat people are drawn to organized religion? What’s truly going on here?

The link between middle age obesity and religion has already been established.

What researchers wanted to know is the cause-and-effect relationship between religious involvement and obesity. So researchers from Northwestern Medicine decided to find out.

“We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity, but the upshot is these findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention,” says Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead author.

He surmises that weekly church get-togethers, ripe with good food, encourage poor eating habits that lead to obesity.

The new research tracked weight gain over a period of time, establishing that obesity comes after the religious involvement, not the other way around.

In other words, younger adults of normal weight, but with a high degree of religious involvement, do become obese over time.

In the study, 2,433 women and men were tracked for 18 years. The findings in adults 20 to 32 years old was very intriguing: I

f they had a high level of religious participation, they were 50 percent more likely to develop obesity by the time they hit middle age.

Variables of age, race, education, gender, income plus baseline body mass index (BMI) were adjusted for.

Participating in a minimum of one religious gathering per week was the definition of high frequency religious participation.

Does this mean that attending religious functions is bad for your health?

The study authors insist no. In fact, past studies show that “religious” people do tend to live longer than those who aren’t into religion – partly because faithful people tend to avoid smoking or smoke less.

So now you know the cause-and-effect relationship. But what about a solution? Should food be banned from religious functions?

It’s entirely possible that there exist people who attend these functions just for the food!

Think about that: the luscious potato salad, killer macaroni salad, tantalizing baked beans and BBQ-sauce-drenched little wieners, the cheese spreads and casserole dishes…

Perhaps someone should start a “Christians for Strength Training” group. I’m serious.

The Bible says that the body is a temple. The body, then, should be treated as a temple.

In the name of their faith, many people avoid smoking and drinking. Here’s another thing to avoid: lack of structured exercise.

Before attending a food-laden religious event, get in a rigorous one-hour workout, preferably with weights. Go hard and fierce, shower, dress, and head straight to the religious function.

In the hour or two following a strenuous workout, the body’s glucose metabolism is at its most efficient.

This means that your body, during this time window, will burn more incoming calories, than it will at any other point during the day.

So what better time to enjoy food at a religious function than soon after a hard workout?

“Here’s an opportunity for religious organizations to initiate programs to help their congregations live even longer,” explains Feinstein. “The organizations already have groups of people getting together and infrastructures in place that could be leveraged to initiate programs that prevent people from becoming obese and treat existing obesity.”