« Flu Closes Schools, Flusters Hospitals Nationwide | Main | Hard Workers Susceptible to Risky Alcohol Use »

Obesity Epidemic Within Clergy Community

iStock/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) — Men of the cloth may need to wear more cloth to cover their expanding waistlines.

While their job is to take care of their flock, clergy members are often remiss about taking care of their own health, which might explain why 30 percent are now considered obese, according to Todd W. Ferguson, a doctoral candidate at Baylor University.

Ferguson received responses to his survey from nearly 540 clergy members from various denominations and learned that food often plays a part in their interaction with the community, whether the occasions are joyful or sorrowful.

Eating, of course, is also a coping mechanism and Ferguson asked the participants to fill out a “distress index” that measured stress that ranged from demands of the job to how often they felt lonely to the number of times they worked over 46 hours a week.

Ironically, clergy work was once regarded as a healthy occupation with a low mortality rate but as Ferguson points out, obesity has become a major problem because pastors are in a high-status occupation that doesn’t pay well. As a result, clergy members might have to lead a second congregation or hold down another job that has nothing to do with the church.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio