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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Fat and holy?

On the scale of body-image perception, highly religious people weigh in as the least likely to think of themselves as fat. That’s the result of a recent study of more than 3,000 men and women, conducted by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

People in six categories were polled: mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, other religions and no religion. Among those who considered themselves “highly religious,” all (except Jewish women) underestimated their true weight.

There is a good way to look at this: Religion “encourages self-worth beyond the body,” suggested the study researcher, Karen Kim, and, so, provides a buffer against the ideals of popular culture.

And an even better way: “[Y]our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19), reminds the ELCA Board of Pensions in the Live Well program.


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