According to Purdue researcher Ken Ferraro, the answer is yes, sort of.
To be more precise, Ferraro found a 14 percent increase in obesity among women who use religious media resources. Ferraro studied the religious habits of over 2500 people to reach this conclusion. Interestingly, he found that frequency of attending services was correlated with lower likelihood of obesity and that men did not show an increased tendency. Here’s an interesting outtake:
…this (study) follows subjects over eight years to help explain why religion and obesity are related. For instance, (Ferraro) tested alternative explanations, such as the idea that overweight people seek religious consolation, but found no evidence for that proposition. The current study also differentiates between religious denominations and reaffirms that Baptists are more likely to be obese. Fundamentalist Protestants had the second highest rate of obesity in this sample.
My initial reaction was that this may have something to do with demographics given that the “home base” for Baptists in the US is the South, an area with a greater obesity problem than say, the Northeast. Ferraro nixed that idea:
“(W)e controlled for residency and still Baptist women were more likely to be obese. This trend could be related to the strong emphasis for Baptists to avoid alcohol and tobacco, and, as a result, many of them indulge in overeating instead. More research is needed to learn how denominations view overeating and obesity.”
I always suspected that religious fundamentalism was bad news for your mind, but now it turns out that it may be bad for your waistline as well.