Can't Lose Weight? Convert to a Skinnier Religion

church picnicResearchers opened a whole new Pandora's box this week regarding obesity in America. They concluded that when it comes to staying fit, church-going ... well, apparently, it's on par with eating junk food. After analyzing data that spanned 18 years, Northwestern University researchers concluded that people who went to church or church activities at least once a week were more than twice as likely as people with no religious involvement to become obese.

Why? They blame all that FOOD that's served at church ... you know, boxes upon boxes of Munchkins, after-service picnics, etc.



I can see their point, being that all of my best memories of Sunday school at our synagogue involved some kind of snack, baking challah bread, eating hamantaschen at a Purim party, etc. If I had continued to hang out at the temple, I'm sure I would have continued to be around delicious Jewish food even more than I already was at home. (My grandma makes the best matzah ball soup you'll ever taste, and my mom's latkes are killer.) 

The study got me thinking, I wonder what religions are most prone to make you thin vs. chubbalicious?? So I conducted a study of my own, asking friends about their religious traditions and tried to deduce which religions might be the Skinnest vs. the Fattest. Here's what my very unscientific fact-gathering mission turned up ...

The Fattest Religions

Jews - Yes, I can definitely speak from personal experience here. Kosher law may prohibit pork and pairing meat with fattening cheese (just say no to a Big Mac), but we make up for it in other ways, a la bagel with some schmear, reuben sandwiches, you know, basically all of the above I already mentioned. We also joke that our holidays mostly involve the theme, "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat!" We also have crazy doting Jewish mothers always making sure we have ENOUGH to eat! (But if we have had too much, we're told that, as well. So, you could also argue that Jewish guilt assists with staying on track with your diet.)

Protestants - Like the Northwestern researchers found, Protestants are surprisingly more prone to get fat. It's not their fault necessarily -- it's all about being so into community time! And a lot of the community time revolves around, well, eating. There are pancake breakfasts, bake sales, big picnics after church in the summer. Lots of opportunity to stuff your face with not-so-healthy meals equals a lot jiggle in the middle! (Too bad it's not Santa Claus cute.)

The Skinniest Religions

Catholics - I wouldn't think so initially either, but that may be because I grew up around a lot of Italian and Greek Orthodox Catholics who know and love their olive oil, pasta, cheeses, meats, wine, etc. (You know, the good stuff in life!) But then I started thinking, hey! They have all those fasting days for Lent and no meat Fridays! It's a killer, but sure is helpful for staying slim! Oh, plus, all that up and down in the pews, from kneeling to standing -- it's like doing squats! Jillian Michaels would be proud.

Muslims - First of all, they don't eat pork, which means no fatty bacon! Second of all, they have an entire MONTH devoted to forgoing food! Yup, during Ramadan, which spans up to 30 days, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking or having sex from dawn until sunset. Rachel Zoe seems like someone who would fit in very well as a Muslim! And anyone who wants to avoid packing on pounds might do well to take a tip from them, too!


Do you think your religion has any bearing on your weight?


Image via Stevan Sheets/Flickr

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