Despite previous work exploring linkages between religious participation and health, little research has looked at the role of religion in affecting bodyweight perceptions. Using the theoretical model developed by Levin et al. (Sociol Q 36(1):157–173, 1995) on the multidimensionality of religious participation, we develop several hypotheses and test them by using data from the 2004 Survey of Texas Adults. We estimate multinomial logistic regression models to determine the relative risk of women perceiving themselves as overweight. Results indicate that religious attendance lowers risk of women perceiving themselves as very overweight. Citizenship status was an important factor for Latinas, with noncitizens being less likely to see themselves as overweight. We also test interaction effects between religion and race. Religious attendance and prayer have a moderating effect among Latina non-citizens so that among these women, attendance and prayer intensify perceptions of feeling less overweight when compared to their white counterparts. Among African American women, the effect of increased church attendance leads to perceptions of being overweight. Prayer is also a correlate of overweight perceptions but only among African American women. We close with a discussion that highlights key implications from our findings, note study limitations, and several promising avenues for future research.
Originally published in Review of Religious Research 58(3): 433-455. See it here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13644-016-0249-2