Church and fatness: A hearty guess

Scientists like to tell what they have observed. Some scientists, sometimes, also offer up an amusing, possibly wild guess about exactly what it means. Sometimes a reporter writes up the possibly wild guess as if it were attached to reality by some sturdy chain of reasoning.

A March 24, 2011 CNN report tells about a scientist guessing at his newly reported research:

Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter

[F]requent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement. What is unclear from the new research is why religion might be associated with overeating.

“Churches pay more attention to obvious vices like smoking or drinking,” said Matthew Feinstein [pictured here], lead author of the research and fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Our best guess about why is that…more frequent participation in church is associated with good works and people may be rewarding themselves with large meals that are more caloric in nature than we would like.”

Improbable Research