Research Shows Churchgoers Overweight, Fitness Ministry Develops

( [email protected] ) Mar 27, 2004 09:28 AM EST

In addition to tackling the spiritual issues, churches are now also offering fitness ministries in response to research, which shows church attendants to be more overweight than non-church goers.

Ken Ferraro, sociologist at Purdue University, thought the results of the study would be different than what was finally concluded.

"In most of the research, religion is a positive influence on health," said Purdue University sociologist Ken Ferraro. "I anticipated that people who attended religious services would be less likely to be obese — and we found just the opposite."

It is possible that the problem of being overweight has persisted among churchgoers because the subject matter is not addressed in the church. Even after the study, pastors did not incorporate the message of fitness into their sermons.

"You find very little response in terms of pastors mentioning this from the pulpit," said Ferraro.

However, churches are developing programs that congregants can join to shed the pounds. "They're dealing with it on the therapeutic side, helping people to lose weight," Ferraro said.

Kathy Landon attends a Christian fitness class and said it has helped her feel closer to God. She also correlates fitness with faith.

"It is God-honoring to take care of our bodies," she said. "I just feel better when I work out overall -- physically, spiritually, emotionally. It just really helps."

Pastor Paul Reichart supports the idea of having church fitness ministries. Aside from attracting new church-goers, the ministry is valuable because physical fitness is supported by Biblical scriptures.

"There's a principle there that would fall in with the fruit of the Spirit of self-control," he explained, "anything that we do we want to do in moderation."