Incident obesity and cardiovascular risk factors between young adulthood and middle age by religious involvement: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study

Matthew Feinstein, Kiang Liu, Hongyan Ning, George Fitchett, Donald M Lloyd-Jones
Preventive Medicine 2012, 54 (2): 117-21

BACKGROUND: Religious involvement has been associated with improved health outcomes but greater obesity in older adults. No longitudinal study of young adults has examined the prospective association of religious involvement with incident cardiovascular risk factors (RFs) and subclinical disease (subCVD).

METHODS: We included 2433 participants of the CARDIA study, aged 20 to 32 in 1987 when religiosity was assessed, who were followed for 18 years. Multivariable-adjusted regression models were fitted to assess prospective associations of frequency of religious participation at baseline with incidence of RFs and prevalence of subCVD after 18 years' follow up.

RESULTS: The high frequency of religious participation was associated with a significantly greater incidence of obesity in unadjusted models (RR 1.57, 95% CI 1.14-1.73) and demographic-adjusted models (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.09-1.65) but not after additional adjustment for baseline RFs (RR 1.17, 95% CI .97-1.41). When religious participation was treated dichotomously, any religious participation, compared with none, was associated with significantly lower subCVD.

CONCLUSIONS: Frequent religious participants are more likely to become obese between young adulthood and middle age; this association is confounded by demographic and other factors. Nonetheless, young adults with frequent participation may represent an opportunity for obesity prevention.

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