Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 2140–2152 | Cite as

Religious Attendance and Body Mass: An Examination of Variations by Race and Gender

  • Dawn Godbolt
  • Preeti Vaghela
  • Amy M. BurdetteEmail author
  • Terrence D. Hill
Original Paper


Studies of the association between religious attendance and body mass have yielded mixed results. In this paper, we consider intersectional variations by race and gender to advance our understanding of these inconsistencies. We use data from the 2006–2008 Health and Retirement Study to examine the association between religious attendance and three indicators of body mass: overall body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-height ratio (n = 11,457). For White women, attendance is either protective or unrelated to body mass. For Black women, attendance is consistently associated with increased body mass. We find that religious attendance is not associated with body mass among the men.


Religion Body mass Church attendance BMI 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. The current study employs secondary data analysis on de-identified, publicly available data, and therefore did not require IRB approval.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn Godbolt
    • 1
  • Preeti Vaghela
    • 1
  • Amy M. Burdette
    • 2
    Email author
  • Terrence D. Hill
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and Department of SociologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  3. 3.School of SociologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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