Religion and Bodyweight: Are There Variations by Affiliation?

Philip B. Mason, Mississippi State University
Xiaohe Xu, Mississippi State University

This study explores the association between religious involvement and bodyweight. It investigates whether this involvement is attenuated by demographic characteristics, SES, and health behaviors. Findings indicate that: (1) Mormons have higher risks of overweight and obesity than non-Mormons; (2) the effect of Mormonism on bodyweight varies by demographic characteristics and SES; (3) when sub-group analyses are performed by age and sex, religious service attendance attenuates the risk of overweight or obesity for non-Mormons, but less so for Mormons; and (4) smoking and drinking behavior does not significantly affect Mormons’ bodyweight but does affect that of non-Mormons. We tentatively conclude that Mormons have an elevated risk of having an unhealthy bodyweight because they selectively follow parts of their code of health which are explicitly prohibited by church leaders, but place far less attention on other parts of the doctrine that are not emphasized by authorities. We call this process “compensatory consumption.”

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Presented in Poster Session 2