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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The association of religiosity with overweight/obese body mass index among Asian Indian immigrants in California

  • Author(s): Bharmal, N
  • M. Kaplan, R
  • Shapiro, MF
  • Kagawa-Singer, M
  • Wong, MD
  • Mangione, CM
  • Divan, H
  • McCarthy, WJ
  • et al.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the association between religiosity and overweight or obese body mass index among a multi-religious group of Asian Indian immigrants residing in California. Methods: We examined cross-sectional survey data obtained from in-language telephone interviews with 3228 mostly immigrant Asian Indians in the 2004 California Asian Indian Tobacco Survey using multivariate logistic regression. Results: High self-identified religiosity was significantly associated with higher BMI after adjusting for socio-demographic and acculturation measures. Highly religious Asian Indians had 1.53 greater odds (95% CI: 1.18, 2.00) of being overweight or obese than low religiosity immigrants, though this varied by religious affiliation. Religiosity was associated with greater odds of being overweight/obese for Hindus (OR 1.54; 95% CI: 1.08, 2.22) and Sikhs (OR 1.88; 95% CI: 1.07, 3.30), but not for Muslims (OR 0.69; 95% CI: 0.28, 1.70). Conclusions: Religiosity in Hindus and Sikhs, but not immigrant Muslims, appears to be independently associated with greater body mass index among Asian Indians. If this finding is confirmed, future research should identify potentially mutable mechanisms by which religion-specific religiosity affects overweight/obesity risk. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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