TitleCan Religion Help Prevent Obesity? Religious Messages and the Prevalence of Being Overweight or Obese Among Korean Women in California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAyers, JW, C Hofstetter, R, Irvin, VL, Song, Y, Park, H-R, Paik, H-Y, Hovell, MF
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Pagination536 - 549
Date Published09/2010

This research examines the influence of messages from religious leaders and congregants on whether Korean women are overweight or obese. Data were drawn from telephone interviews with a probability sample (N = 591) of women of Korean descent living in California. Overweight or obese prevalence was measured using World Health Organization standards for Asians (BMI > 23). Respondents reported the frequency of messages discouraging “excessive eating” or encouraging “exercise” from religious leaders and congregants during a typical month. When conditioned on leaders’ messages, the frequency of congregants’ messages was associated with a significantly lower probability of being overweight or obese, although messages from either in the absence of the other were unassociated with being overweight or obese. At least for Korean women, religion may help prevent obesity via religious-based social mechanisms.