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Studies: LDS Weigh More Than Members of Other Faiths

   |  Posted Feb 13th, 2006 @ 10:45pm


Carole Mikita Reporting

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently assigned two missionaries to a peculiar mission -- help church members with their health, particularly their weight. It's a result of new studies that show Latter-day Saints weigh more and are less 'in shape' than their counterparts of other faiths.

Overweight and out-of-shape. A recent study says Latter-day Saints, men and women, in Utah are 10 and a half pounds heavier, and less active than other residents. Author Steve Aldana says there are a number of reasons why.

Steven Aldana, Ph.D., "The Culprit & The Cure" author: "It has to do with our culture. It has to do with our use of food at every social event."

Carole Mikita: "Like funeral potatoes?"

Aldana: "Like funeral potatoes, that's exactly right."

This recipe, with cheese, sour cream and creamy chicken soup is part of the comfort food culture that many Latter-day Saints adhere to. Just one serving has 330 calories and 21 grams of fat.

Becky Low, M.S. nutritionist: "If you take just a little bit, it's probably not so bad. It's just that when we eat so much of it, so frequently, there's a problem."

Carole Mikita, Reporting: "Funeral potatoes are so famous that back in 2002 they even had their own Olympic pin."

Wendy: "I just decided I was tired of living that way."

Last January, Wendy Bates realized she had a hard time bending over to tie her shoes, was out-of-breath walking up stairs, and her blood pressure was too high. One year later, she has lost 55 pounds, has energy and the blood pressure is down.

Wendy Bates, West Jordan resident: "I just tried changing a little bit about what I ate, and then a little more about what I ate, and then added a little exercise and that's what worked for me."

From donuts, cookies and that enticing candy bar, to fresh produce and foods high in fiber. That is exactly the kind of lifestyle change advocated in "Losing It," a book that points to the Latter-day Saint health code known as the Word of Wisdom. It says no alcohol, no tobacco, but also...

Melanie Douglass, R.D., nutritionist: "It says use things sparingly. It recommends fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and I think if you remember that, right now more than ever, we need to practice balance, variety, and moderation."

Douglass's book is a best-seller but sits next to "Essential Mormon Celebrations," a cookbook with emphasis on comfort foods.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is giving this book, "The Culprit & The Cure" to church employees, hoping it will encourage them to pay more attention to their health.

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