Imago Dei

I wrote nearly a year ago about how US-based Latter-day Saints — unlike members of other major religious groups — tend to be more devout the higher their level of education. In other words, US Mormons with a college degree tend to be more active than those with just a high school degree, who in turn tend to be more active than those with no high school degree.

Now comes another interesting study out of BYU that says that US-based LDS women attending college tend to be more satisfied with their body image and less prone to eating disorders than non-LDS women attending college:

An associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, Spangler has spent a lot of time considering the relationship between religious doctrine and the body. In her talk last week at a University of Utah symposium on body image, she reported on research showing that Mormon college students have significantly better “body satisfaction” than students from other religions or from no religion.

Her thesis: Mormon theological doctrine about the body in general is what leads those LDS students to be happy with their own bodies in particular.

That’s not to say that most men and women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like everything about their bodies. Spangler herself does research on eating disorders, and some of the women in treatment are from BYU. Like most Americans — 80 percent of women and 60 percent of men, according to one national study — many LDS women look in the mirror and are at least mildly unhappy. Still, Mormons are more satisfied than most, she says. . . .

Two of the studies, conducted by Jody Oomen-Early at Texas Women’s University, surveyed women age 18 to 30 about a related issue — eating disorders. Oomen-Early, who did her graduate work in health sciences at BYU, wondered if religious devoutness was correlated with increased eating disorder behaviors, a question that first occurred to her when an anorexic student at TWU told her that she felt she was “good” when she denied herself, and sinful when she ate.

Oomen-Early’s research found that the more devout a Baptist or Methodist woman, the more likely she was to have eating disorder behaviors. But — and this surprised her — more devout LDS women were less prone to eating disorder symptoms. “Religious devoutness seemed to be a protective factor in LDS women,” says Oomen-Early.

As one of the researches notes, correlation is not causation. Still, one could reasonably conclude that, for US-based Latter-day Saint women, the more educated you are, the happier you’ll be. Food (ahem) for thought; read the whole thing. ..bruce..

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