Melbourne: Researchers have found a link between religion and higher body index (BMI) readings.
Two northern NSW academics, who conducted the study, said that the “sin of gluttony” might not be as frowned upon by religious people as much as other vices such as drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex - and that many religious celebrations might even encourage over-eating.
For the study, Southern Cross University business academic Michael Kortt and University of New England colleague Brian Dollery analysed data from 9408 adults and found religious denomination was “significantly related to higher BMI” – a warning sign of potential health problems heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Kortt and Dollery found that Baptist and Catholic men had a higher BMI as compared with those with no religious affiliations.
They also revealed non-Christian women had lower BMIs.
“There has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that there is a positive relationship between religion and health,” the Courier Mail quoted them as saying in the paper.
“We have identified a statistically significant association between religion and BMI for Australian men and women,” they said.
The study results reflect previous research cited by Kortt and Dollery in their paper ‘Religion and BMI in Australia’.
They also noted that research suggesting many religious functions and celebrations revolved around food “which, in turn may (exacerbate) an environment conducive to excessive eating”.
The academics noted that people who practised religion at home - for example, by watching TV evangelists - were more likely to consume high-calorie foods and drinks and might prefer a sedentary lifestyle.