Are Atheists Fatter Than Believers?

Buddy Hackett

Buddy Hackett in Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

There is an interesting article on Conservapedia (“The Trustworthy Encylopedia”) called “Atheism and obesity“. that argues that people of faith are fitter and healthier than non-believers.

Their main argument is based on research by Gallup which concluded that “Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious.” The data appears to agree with this statement, although there is not a huge difference between the habits of non-religious and religious people.

Gallup research table of results

Gallup research – Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives – WELL-BEING – December 23 2010

The Conservopedia article then goes on to attack every overweight atheist that it can find, and fails to mention any overweight religious people.

The Internet makes atheists fat

Some of their arguments seem very far-fetched, for example, there is a section on “Internet atheism and obesity” (I was not aware that such a thing even existed) that claims that “As a result of the challenges that atheists commonly have in terms of socializing in person, many atheists turn to the internet in terms of communicating with other atheists.”

Their argument here is that this use of the Internet is making atheists fat. Considering that one of the largest Internet forums in the world is the forum, this does appear to be total nonsense. I am not even sure what they mean by the socializing challenges that atheists have – I have never met an atheist who found it hard to socialize.

They cite an Australian study that connects Internet use with obesity but it does seem a leap of faith to assume that atheists use the Internet more and are fat because of this.

Christians spread health all over the world

They then talk about the growth of Christianity outside of the West and the health benefits this is bringing people; they even mention Christians in China.

But they fail to mention that China is facing an obesity problem that is being driven by the arrival of Western fast food chains – China was much healthier (when not starving) before the arrival of Western Christian food influences.

Atheism and medicine

Possibly their craziest argument is that favoring modern medicine, something atheists do apparently, is another major problem.

“Atheist often champion mainstream medicine and disparage osteopathy, integrative medicine, chiropractic healthcare and other alternative medicine approaches. Yet despite medical science having an vast amount of evidence pointing out the many health risks of excess weight and medical science, exercise science, and nutritional science having many effective measures to lose weight, there are a significant number of Western World atheists who are obese or have excess weight.”

I think they are arguing that modern medicine is responsible for making people fat, but to be honest, I am not entirely sure what their argument is here. They do fail to mention that modern medicine has introduced medical procedures to help people lose weight – a bit careless of them to miss this out.

Of course, shunning quack medicine and snake oil is apparently not as dangerous to your waistline as not getting married!

“… obese male atheists may find it more difficult to find prospective female partners for marriage. And of course, militant atheism might make matters even more difficult.”

The argument here is that women do not find atheists very attractive (do they not realize that some women are atheists too? – yes they do, they attack them later on). Either way, they argue that getting married helps keep you slim. Strange, because the opposite is usually the case – people get married and let themselves go!

There is much more madness in the article. A claim that “atheists reject: objective beauty” – huh? Since when did an atheist not appreciate beauty? Henri Matisse will probably argue with this, if he were not dead. They also go on to argue that atheists in general do not care about their bodies, because of something to do with The Creation of Adam.

Stephen Fry

They use Stephen Fry as the cornerstone of their argument (partly because he is gay too I suppose). I cannot paraphrase what they say, it is too sickening to contemplate putting it in my own words, so here is the whole lot:

“The atheist Stephen Fry is a English screenwriter, author, playwright, comedian, and film director.

A picture of an overweight Stephen Fry can be found HERE and HERE In 2009, the Mail Online reported that Stephen Fry went from being “appallingly corpulent” to having a weight where he can “at last bear to look at himself in the mirror again”. However, in March of 2011, Stephen Fry appeared to be once again overweight.

Also, in a January 30, 2012 interview with Charlie Rose, Mr. Fry also had excess weight. In his interview with Charlie Rose, Mr. Fry said that as a young man he hated exercise and sports. Besides being an atheist, Mr. Fry is a homosexual. Traditionally, players in male core sports teams (e.g., football, baseball, basketball,and/or soccer) are more likely to have unfavorable views of homosexuality.”

They seem to think that Stephen Fry is overweight because he is an atheist and gay gentlemen who was never fond of sport. No mention of his lifelong battle with depression and addiction. Anybody who has taken any real interest in Stephen Fry will understand that he has been battling addiction, of which food is just one vice, for all of his life.

They also pick on Penn Jillette, a group of writers called the “Skepchick writers” (mostly women who right about science),  Steve Wozniak, Isaac Asimov, Kim Jong-un (an ” overweight atheist communist dictator”), Dara Ó Briain, Beth Ditto and a bunch of other random overweight atheists.

They somehow forgot to share any names or photos of overweight priests and vicars. We do need to be careful not to lower ourselves to the depths that the Conservapia group have done in attacking random, overweight atheists to try to prove a point. But, a few photos do not hurt. Here are a few photos of overweight preachers, priests and other religious leaders that somebody made earlier:

Proverbs 23-2

Proverbs 23-2

This is a photo of  Chris Christie, a politician who is a Roman Catholic. How can he possibly be overweight? Here are some more photos that they forgot to add:

5th deadly sin

pregnancy is gods blessingFat Danny Jenky



This photo of a gathering of Baptist church leaders that took place in the Aegean province of İzmir in July 2014 certainly shows that being a Baptist does not automatically make you want to be slim and fit.

Baptist church leaders from 120 countries gather in İzmir for congress

If you can be bothered to search you will find more overweight religious people. It goes without saying really. As for fat atheists, there are many who are far from being overweight: Keira Knightley, Jodie Foster, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Kluwe (Football player), Bruce Lee, and Lance “If there was a God, I’d still have both nuts” Armstrong.

As Buddy Hacket, the Jewish comedian pictured at the start of the article, probably never actually said, “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. And that Conservapedia piece was a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, article. Mind you, they are right in that “some godless people have difficulty resisting the sins / temptations of gluttony and sloth.” But that rule seems to happily extend far beyond atheism, in fact, it has nothing to do with faith. Hey ho.

God bless you, live long and prosper, and may the farce be with you.


Gallup: Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives by Frank Newport, Sangeeta Agrawal, and Dan Witters, accessed October 27, 2014

19 Famous Athletes Who Are Atheist –, accessed October 27, 2014

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  26 comments for “Are Atheists Fatter Than Believers?

  1. m goodson
    November 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Mr. Wade,

    Mr. Wade,

    I wanted to clarify a matter further and also add this information about NHS paid chaplains:

    “The vast majority are Anglicans, while others are from the Roman Catholic, Free churches or World Faiths. They are recruited in proportion to the belief patterns of the local population.” see:

    Next, I did not ask you for secular hospitals in your country. I asked you for the name of one atheist hospital in your country. We know that there are numerous Christian hospitals in America and the Western World.

    Mr. Wade, why not just say that I know of no atheist hospitals in my country? Is the reason you do not admit this is because you are too prideful? The atheist community is well-known for having pride/arrogance issues.

  2. MotleyHealth
    November 8, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    You are right, I am so slothful. I apologise for my tardiness in reading and responding to all your questions, and persisting in trying to get you to answer mine (which you are still refusing to do).

    I do not deny that there is a link between anger and other emotional states with weight gain, but not everybody who gets angry and stressed gains weight. Many people actually eat less, so become thinner. Also, anger is a natural emotion that can be managed. After spending many years training in martial arts gyms I witnessed how anger can be harnessed and managed to make a person stronger, more balanced, fitter and happier. Anger does not always lead to the dark side. Atheism + Anger does not equal Obesity.

    As for NHS hospitals, of course they have chapels. These chapels are open to all faiths and those with no faith, and they are obviously staffed. But lets be crystal clear here – the chapel is a small part of the hospital that is provided for those who wish to use it. The Chaplains are there to speak with patients and staff. They are wonderful places within our hospitals and a great asset, but they have no authority or say in what happens outside their walls. My local hospital also as a coffee shop – this does not mean that coffee shops run hospitals.

    Similarly, the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City also has a chapel. Does this mean it is run by the church?

    Let’s also be clear on one really important fact: there is no atheist community. I specifically said secular because that is the correct word. There is no band of atheists, the only people who think that we all stand together in some sort of united front are apologetics such as yourself.

    Asking me to give examples of atheist hospitals makes no more sense than asking for examples of atheist bus stations, atheist restaurants or atheist gyms. It is only religious groups that feel the need to set up their own establishments.

    “what proof and evidence do you have that atheism is true?” – Now I am starting to think that this is a wind up. Did you really just ask that? Mindboggling. I was trying to be polite, but since you have claimed that I cannot “behave in a responsible manner”, called me slothful and incapable of rational discussion, it is clear you are not interested in actually having a discussion, you just want to use this as a channel to promote your own wacky views on the world.

    New rule on MotleyHealth. No more comments from bigots, homophobes and generally rude people.

    This is the end of the discussion. So sorry, you will never have the chance now to explain how 69% of a mostly Christian country became overweight or obese. You had your chance and you just blew it!

  3. Wayne Smith
    December 24, 2014 at 7:29 am

    The reverse is true according to research just published yesterday. Sorry to burst the Christian bubble. Add that to research showing atheists are more honest and intelligent. Makes you wonder why Christians bother lying. Science isn’t their strong point.

    Christians are more likely to be fat than atheists.

  4. MotleyHealth
    December 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing that Wayne, I missed that piece of research. It comes out of Coventry University too, a very fine university!

  5. Jon
    June 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Reviewing the history of atheism over the last hundred years its quite clear atheists have a problem with acquiring food, generally. Need only look at modern atheist nations: the USSR, the PRC, the DPRK, Cambodia under Atheist rule.. etc. There is no way the average atheist is larger than any religious person. Its statistically impossible. Cf. the Holodomor, Starvation in communism & N. Korea’s persistent food problems.

  6. MotleyHealth
    June 10, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Jon, those issues to mention are political, not religious.

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