The Effect of Religion-Supported Programs on Health-Related Behaviors in Adolescence
Much research has found a relationship between religion and teens’ health related behaviors. The majority of this research focuses on personal religious beliefs and behaviors. But, many religious organizations also sponsor nonreligious activities. There is reason to think that nonreligious programs sponsored by religious organizations will be more likely than school and community-based extracurricular programs to be associated with healthier behaviors, even for youth who are not personally religious. The current study compares the influence of involvement in nonreligious activities that are supported by religious and other organizations for teen health outcomes. Using two waves of longitudinal data from the National Study of Youth and Religion the current study finds that involvement in religion-supported programs is associated with feelings of well-being, better physical health, less alcohol use, and delayed initiation into first sex. Conversely, involvement in activities sponsored by nonreligious organizations is associated with more alcohol use and initiation into sex.
KeywordsAdolescents Health Religion-supported secular activities Extracurricular activities Sports Sex Alcohol
This study was supported with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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