JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Church is a place where people can get filled up with the Holy Spirit. But a recent survey suggests, religiously active people are more likely to be filling out their waistlines.
"Yeah we usually eat," said church member Stevie Overby from Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro. Whether it's going to lunch after Sunday service, or snacking at the weekly prayer meeting, breaking bread together is often something that goes hand-in-hand with fellowship.
"Historically they would say that. Especially in the Baptist circles, they say it's fellowship and food," said College & Campus Teaching Pastor Dan Reeves.
But could attending church functions on a regular bases be a contributor to the growing obesity problem? A new study from Northwestern University in Chicago found religiously active individuals are more like to pile on the pounds by middle age. Reeves doesn't agree.
"I don't know how you can make a direct correlation just between religious activity and obesity directly. Biblically what scripture teaches us is to be self-controlled, and we try to live by that," said Reeves.
And when church members say they are hungry for the Lord, they mean spiritually. "You are hungry for something that's not of this world. So you're not actually eating when you say your hungry for the Lord," said Overby.
Church goers say it's all boils down to the individual. "I think that's a pretty far stretch. Obesity comes down to your personal decisions on a day-to-day basis," said church member Michele Boelzner.
"I think it's a little absurd. Obesity is linked more to your life choices. It has nothing to do with your religious affiliation, where you go to church, if you go to church," said Overby.
The university studied more than 2,000 people. Many church members we spoke to in Region 8 say church is about being hungry for a relationship with god, not the food.