Religiosity and Excess Weight Among African-American Adolescents: The Jackson Heart KIDS Study

  • Marino A. BruceEmail author
  • Bettina M. Beech
  • Tanganyika Wilder
  • E. Thomaseo Burton
  • Jylana L. Sheats
  • Keith C. Norris
  • Roland J. ThorpeJr.
Original Paper


Recent studies suggest that religion and spirituality can yield health benefits for young African-Americans. We examined the relationship between religious practices, spirituality, and excess weight among African-American adolescents (N = 212) residing in the Deep South. Results from modified Poisson regression analysis indicate that adolescents who prayed daily had a lower prevalence of excess weight (PR 0.77 [95% CI 0.62–0.96]) than those who did not. This relationship was only significant for 12–15 year-old participants in age-stratified analysis. These findings suggest that preventive interventions offered to children and younger adolescents can have implications for weight status across the lifespan.


Pediatric obesity Religion Spirituality Health disparities Population health 



This research was supported by the Center for Research on Men’s Health at Vanderbilt University and grants from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (Prime Award Number 1 CPIMP091054—Beech); the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HHSN268201800012I—Beech; 1R25HL126145—Beech and Norris; 1K01HL88735—Bruce); the National Institute of Aging (1K02AG059140—Thorpe); the Program for Research on Men’s Health in the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions (P60MD000214—Thorpe) and the Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award (Thorpe). The authors thank Ms. Mary Crump, Ms. Lovie Robinson, Dr. Gerrie Cannon Smith, Dr. London Thompson, Ms. Ashley Wicks, Rev. Thaddeus Williams, and Mr. Willie Wright for their support of this study and participation on the Jackson Heart KIDS Pilot Study Community Advisory Board.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the Blinded University’s Institutional Review Board, consistent with US regulations and the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individuals participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program for Research on Faith and Health, Center for Research on Men’s HealthVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Medicine, Health and SocietyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population Health Science, John D. Bower School of Population HealthUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  4. 4.Myrlie Evers Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health DisparitiesUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida A&M UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  6. 6.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  7. 7.Children’s Foundation Research InstituteLe Bonheur Children’s HospitalMemphisUSA
  8. 8.Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral SciencesTulane University School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA
  9. 9.David C. Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  10. 10.Department of Health, Behavior, and SocietyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  11. 11.Program for Research on Men’s Health, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities SolutionsJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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