March 1, signaled the start of the Biggest Winner, a friendly and healthy competition, that we are participating in at Highland Park. The event will run for 90 days with two other churches, The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square and St. Paul Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, MD. On May 31, the church that has the largest weight loss will receive a citation from the Prince Georges County Council. The rationale for the study is based on research that concluded that years of attending church leads to a 50% greater chance of weight gain as opposed to not attending church. The results were constant across race, age, education and socioeconomic categories.
My training in research design often piques my interest into the why behind research conclusions. Mathew Feinstein, at Northwestern University, who led the study referenced in the competition, is careful to point out that the results indicate a correlation not a cause. Further research is needed to identify if there is a cause or why there is a correlation. The authors speculate that people who attend church tend to have a broader social network, thereby having more opportunities to fellowship around food. The researchers suggest that churchgoers already have a support system in place to encourage healthy eating and exercise. So long icy cold church punch in styrofoam cups. It bears noting that research continues to indicate that people who are religious and attend services are happier, have positive health outcomes and live longer. Nutrition transformation for the temple, we can do that.
Click here for a link to the news segment that featured Pastor Davis and Highland Park participants.