Religiousness and lifestyle among Europeans in SHARE

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OBJECTIVES: Religiousness is associated with longevity and better physical health, which may be due to lifestyle choices. Here, we examine associations between religiousness and health, explained by lifestyle.

STUDY DESIGN: This is a longitudinal study.

METHODS: Data came from 23,864 people aged 50 and above included in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe in 2004-2005 and followed up during 11 years.

RESULTS: Praying and taking part in a religious organization were associated with lower odds of smoking [odds ratio (OR) = 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.73, 0.92 and 0.61, 95% CI: 0.53, 0.70], alcohol consumption (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.78 and OR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.67, 0.85), physical inactivity (OR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.79, 0.98 and OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.61), and doing no vigorous physical activity (OR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.85, 0.98 and OR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.58, 0.68). Furthermore, religious organizational involvement lowered the odds of sleep problems (OR = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.76, 0.91), whereas being religiously educated lowered the odds of high body weight (OR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.79, 0.96). The more religious (people who prayed, took part in a religious organization and were religiously educated) had lower odds of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and sleep problems than other respondents, and compared with people who only prayed, they had lower odds of smoking, physical inactivity, and sleep problems. People who only prayed had lower odds of alcohol consumption but higher odds of sleep problems than the non-religious.

CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that the positive relations between religiousness and health to an important degree can be explained by lifestyle.

JournalPublic Health
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Alcohol consumption, Body Weight, Physical activity, Religiousness, Sleep problems, Smoking