Why are Mormons so exceptionally fat?



A family goes shopping in one of the few grocery stores in Utah that are permitted to serve non-Mormons..
Actual photographic evidence!


From time to time, I’ve run across earnest discussions among secularizing critics and apostates of the unusual fatness of Mormons.  (Seriously.  I have.)  “What causes it?” they wonder.  Various explanations are typically offered:  It’s because Mormons spend so much time in meetings and get no exercise.  It’s because Mormons don’t drink or smoke and, consequently, comfort themselves with ice cream and candy bars instead.  It’s because Mormons are depressed and take refuge in eating.   It’s even because Mormons hate sex and fear physical attractiveness.


Without any exception that I can recall in such cases, nobody offers any actual evidence that Mormons are exceptionally fat.


And there seems to be little support for the assumption here.


Apparently, Utah’s non-Mormons are all dangerously undernourished, which is why Utah does so well, relatively speaking, in this ranking.  If so — and, to a certain type of critic, that will likely be the immediately obvious explanation — the probable undernourishment of Utah non-Mormons will constitute yet another redundant crime of Mormonism against humanity.  Heck, the Mormons probably keep the non-Mormons segregated in ghettos, perhaps even locked up in concentration camps.  Mormon grocers and restaurant owners probably refuse to sell food to people who haven’t been certified eligible for it by a Mormon bishop.


Nothing must be allowed to interfere with the narrative of Mormon evil.



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  • Doug Ealy

    Mormons fat? I’ve never seen anything indicating that Mormons are heavier than any other population (yeah, I know it isn’t scientific.). I’m from Indiana (one of the fattest populations in the US) and in sacrament meeting I would see a fair number of “fat” members. I live in Utah now and I see very few people I would consider “fat” (I feel like a fish ….er…. whale out of water!). It seems to me that Mormons merely reflect — to a degree — the behaviors and genetic makeup of the population in general.

    Although, has anyone ever looked into funeral potatoes? They have the word FUNERAL in the name!

    My testimony is shaking like my waistline!

  • RaymondSwenson

    Given the mobility of people these days, I strongly doubt a state by state breakdown really means much. I have lived in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, Virginia, California, Idaho and currently Washington State. Whatever way you compile such data (not answered in the story you linked to), there will always be a distribution of states, one at the top and one at the bottom. Whether the distribution means something more than the random distribution of people as they are born, move, and die is the real question. We are trained to assume that ALL numbers are meaningful, but the fact is that many numbers like this are simply numbers, and may not be “caused” by some other factor. If you took any of the states on the list and broke out the numbers in each county, they would also have a natural somewhat random variation, but again it is not at all clear that it MEANS anything other than that there is a natural variation in the weight of people just as there is variation in their height. We shouldn’t expect otherwise, since state boundaries in the US are just historical accidents, and not based on coherent natural regions or consistency among populations of their inhabitants. Those straight line segments that delineate many state boundaries are not natural in any sense, and are arbitrary lines. Why should the arbitrary units as units be of any significance as to the physical characteristics of the people who happen to live within them at any given time?

    There are all sorts of hypotheses one could form to try to explain the distribution. For example, maybe the fact that Utah’s population age distribution is heavily skewed toward the young because of large numbers of children versus adults, has affected the average rate of obesity, since younger people tend to be less obese.

    Meaning has to be derived through proposing hypotheses and testing them. Without more information about potential causal factors, the naked stats don’t have any real meaning. If a seriously obese person decided to move to a skinny state in hopes of becoming skinny, instead what would happen is that he would lower the fat index of his former state by leaving, and increase the fat index of his new state by placing his fat self there.

    • Doug Ealy

      I see your point. Yes. A portion of the population is very mobile, but my family background and experiences are different than yours. I have many, many relatives who were born and will die in the same city or neighborhood. And I believe there are more people like this than is believed. Do they out number the mobile population? I don’t know. Some remain in one place by choice. Some remain in one place through a lack of employable skills. Regardless, I believe these folks are the cultural mainstays of any state or region. They keep the memories and traditions alive.

      I thought I had the little Utah town I live in now figured out. Then I volunteered to work at our polling station for one of the elections a few years back. I saw and met many people who were quite different from my concept of Utah and our town. I quickly realized that I had taken my view of a place based on people like me because they were the people I was around all the time.

      I think there is some validity to trends in a state. Here in the west many of the boundaries are arbitrary. Where I come from (east of the Miss. river) boundaries were made based on geographic and cultural lines (e.g. West Virginia boundaries were drawn based on regions where Virginians sided with the North in the Civil War.). I think the real problem comes when overly simplified conclusions are made regarding causation.

      My $.02.

  • Chris Baker

    Hahahaha. Wow.