Do Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives?

Apparently so, according to a new data analysis by Gallup researchers, who controlled for age, race, and other demographic differences. They found that very religious Americans—those who say religion is an important part of daily life and who attend religious services almost every week—tend to make healthier lifestyle choices than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious. They smoke less, eat better, and exercise more regularly. (Click on image for larger view.)

This makes sense. After all, many religions have specific rules related to eating, drinking, or smoking. But does religion really cause people to lead healthier lives? Could it be that healthier people are more likely to be religious? The researchers aren’t sure, but they note that:

Healthier people may be more likely and able to attend religious services than those who are less healthy.
It may also be possible that certain types of individuals are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices and more likely to choose to be highly religious. The most parsimonious explanation, however, may be the most intuitive: Those who capitalize on the social and moral outcomes of religious norms and acts are more likely to lead lives filled with healthier choices.

Category: Polls


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