The Interwebs are abuzz with news of some research coming out of Northwestern University’s medical school which, according to lead author Matthew Feinstein, says that youth who exhibit high levels of religiosity tend to become chunkier later in life. In layman’s terms, if you send your kids to early morning seminary, you’re condemning them to a lifetime of obesity.
Now, in the 35 seconds I spent researching this stuff, I couldn’t get my hands around the actual study Feinstein and his co-authors conducted, so I can’t say much about the nitty-gritty details, except that “most of the participants were women, and 41 percent were black.” While the study apparently does have some controls for income, sex, and education, it wasn’t clear from my review if the study accounted for religious affiliation which, as Mormons, is the ever-important detail (Are we fatter than the Baptists?!?). Additionally, the study explicitly did not account for geography, so cultural traditions, diet fads in SoCal, and the poundage of butter used in Southern cooking are not controlled for.
(Also not known: Were the religious people in the survey were subjected to a Redefining Beauty Program in their local congregations?)
All tendencies to equate correlation and causation aside, there were a couple of very Mormon-ish sounding ideas communicated by the authors, which I’ll mention briefly before turning the time over to you:
- Religious people tend drink and smoke less than our evil atheist friends; as such, we may substitute second helpings and large desserts for other commonly used substances when seeking “comfort” in our lives. This is the same sort of reasoning that would lead one to conclude that high antidepressant use in Utah is a function of the Word of Wisdom’s proscription of strong drinks. Whether the costs (obesity) outweigh the benefits (healthy lungs, white teeth) probably varies from person to person.
- It’s all in God’s hands/Jesus is going to return soon anyway, so carpe diem! This is an attitude which comes up frequently among LDS people when environmental policies are being discussed. If we don’t care about taking care of the planet for the future, is it that much of a stretch to imagine that we don’t take care of ourselves for the future?
So what do you think? Is our religion making us fat? Would Brigham Young be disgusted with us? Should Stake Centers come equipped with treadmills? Should investigators be required to pass a physical before baptism?
 In other news, Linger Longers are banninated in the new Church Handbook of Instructions. Modern revelation in action, brothers and sisters.
 This is intentionally exaggerated and represents little more than a lame attempt to start a fight with commenters.