Atheism, autism and obesity

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Below is information concerning to topics of atheism, autism and obesity and their interelationships.

Studies on the correlation between atheism and high-functioning autism

Autism affects the amygdala, cerebellum, and multiple other parts of the brain.

See also: Atheism and autism and Atheism and brain function

In 2011, the University of Boston published a study on the correlation between atheism and high-functioning/mild autism.[1][2]

On September 19, 2011, the Discover Magazine website had an article indicating that there were empirical results showing a positive correlation between atheism and high functioning autism and the article declared:

This is why the empirical results on the correlation between atheism and high functioning autism are important...

...some people were angry that I seemed to suggest that atheists were antisocial weirdos. Well, there is some data to back that up.[3]

On May 30, 2012, Matthew Hutson wrote at Psychology Today website that the findings of the study at Boston University entitled Religious Belief Systems of Persons with High Functioning Autism have been replicated by other studies.[4]

The notion that autism causes atheism has not been proved and criticisms of press insensitivity towards the issue have been leveled in Turkey.[5]

Atheist PZ Myers' blog audience and their reported Asperger's quotient test results

Vox Day has written about atheists being "socially autistic".[6][7][8]

Asperger's syndrome (sometimes referred to as "High-Functioning Autism" or "HFA") is an umbrella term used to classify problematic behaviours similar to, but less severe than, those within the lower reaches of the autistic spectrum.

Day wrote concerning atheist PZ Myers' blog audience:

It's by no means a scientific test, but it is interesting to note the coincidence that 59 of the virulent atheists over at Dr. PZ Myers place report an average score on the Asperger's Quotient test of 27.8. And this does not include the two individuals who actually have Asperger's but did not report any test results."

As PZ himself said: "I took the test and scored a 24, an “average math contest winner.” You need a 32 to suggest Asperger’s, and a 15 is the average. So there. I don’t have Asperger’s, I’m just cruel and insensitive."[9]

Below is some information that Aspergerstest.com gives concerning interpreting their Asperger's quiz results:

Basically the range for possible answers is 0 to 50. The information below shows you the different ranges as recorded from others sitting this same AQ quiz over the years.

0-11 low result – indicating no tendency at all towards autistic traits.

11-21 is the average result that people get (many women average around 15 and men around 17)

22-25 shows autistic tendencies slightly above the population average

26-31 gives a borderline indication of an autism spectrum disorder. It is also possible to have aspergers or mild autism within this range.

32-50 indicates a strong likelihood of Asperger syndrome or autism.

In fact, scores of 32 or above are one of strong indicators of having as ASD.[10]

However, there is evidence which suggests that a large portion of PZ Myers' blog audience are narcissists rather than individuals who have Asperger's Syndrome (see: PZ Myers' antitheist blog audience and the issue of narcissism vs. Asperger's Syndrome).

Causes of autism related to factors which exist in secular societies in the developed world

Although there have been no formal epidemiological studies, the evidence suggests that autism is rare in the economically developing continent of Africa and mainly exists within elite families.[11][12] Africa is a religious continent with high birth rates and low rates of obesity.[13] African Christians clapping at an open-air meeting featured in the picture above. In recent years, Christianity has seen a rapid growth in Africa.[14]

In 2011, Jonathan Rabinovitz published in Scope, a publication of Stanford Medicine: "Autism has sometimes been described as a disease of industrialized high-technology societies."[15] For example, evidence suggests that environmental toxins are a causal factor of autism.[16] See also: Causes of Autism - Mayo Clinic.

In 2013, the Washington Times said about the causes of autism: "The causes of autism are not understood, and recent studies have found associations between childhood autism and multiple births, preterm births, low birthweights, maternal obesity, having a full sibling with autism and having older parents."[17]

Case Adams, N.D. declared:

Recent research from the University of California at Davis has found autism to be linked with the accumulation of toxins within fat cells. This finding corresponds with previous research linking autism to immunosuppression, toxin antibodies and environmental exposures for the mother, which links to toxicity and immunosuppression.

The new research, led by Paula Krakowiak, PhD candidate, analyzed 1,000 children and found that autism was 67% more likely among children from obese mothers.[18]

Many atheists are overweight/obese (See: Atheism and obesity).

Professor Eric Kaufmann in his book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth and in some of the his other works points out the religious have higher fertility rates then secular women and that secular women often delay having children until they are older.[19]

Atheism, autism, alcoholism, illegal drug use, depression and other factors

According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office in Europe, "The WHO European Region has the highest proportion in the world of total ill health and premature death due to alcohol.[20]

Secular societies and many atheists have significant problems with alcoholism (See: Atheism and alcoholism). The link between alcoholism and autism needs to be explored further based various pieces of existing data.[21][22][23] A significant number of atheists have problems with illegal drug use as well (see: Atheism and drug addiction). Cocaine use by expecting mothers may be a cause of autism according to the medical literature.[24]

Atheists have higher rates of depression and suicide than theists (see: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide). The use of antidepressants by mothers during pregnancy increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders in children, according to a Swedish study.[25] Secular societies and atheists tend to experience loneliness more also (see: Atheism and loneliness).

Air pollution is thought to be a potential cause of autism as far as expecting mothers and in the Western World atheists tend to live in urban environments rather than rural environments.[26] According to Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "It’s still lonely being an atheist in rural America."[27] On the other hand, in some areas of the Western World, religious immigrants often live in urban areas.[28]

Autism appears to be rare in religious Africa

Although there have been no formal epidemiological studies, the evidence suggests that autism is rare in the economically developing continent of Africa and mainly exists within elite families.[29][30] In addition, the traditional African diet is healthier than many Western World individuals' diets and Africa has some of the lowest obesity rates in the world.[31] See: Atheism and obesity. Furthermore, Africa is a religious continent with high birth rates.[32]

Low rate of autism among the religious American Amish

An Amish farm near Morristown, New York. Due to their high levels of physical activity, the Amish have low rates of obesity.[33]

The American Amish have a low autism rate which may be due to their healthy and simple lifestyle, their genetic makeup or both.[34] Due to their high levels of physical activity, the Amish have low rates of obesity.[35] Many atheists do not live a wholesome life (see: Atheism and alcoholism and Atheism and drug addiction and Atheism and health and Moral failures of the atheist population).

David N. Brown states that: "In March 2006, Drs. Kevin Strauss, Holmes Morton and others documented 9 autistic Amish children, which could raise the autism rate of the Lancaster Amish community Olmsted supposedly investigated to almost 1/5,000 which is still a fraction of the US average of 1/68."[36][37][38]

The Amish have high a fertility rate and in 2012 the Amish were named the fastest growing faith group in the United States. The Amish population is projected to grow to 1 million people by 2050.[39]

Autism and some data from secular Europe, atheistic China and religious countries

See Autism and some data from secular Europe, atheistic China and religious countries

Autism and obesity

Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD. declared about the link between autism and obesity:

Curtin and colleagues published their findings in 2010 dealing with the association between these two conditions. They looked at 85,272 children between ages 3 and 17 and assessed if they were diagnosed with autism and classified them as obese according to CDC guidelines for body mass index (BMI) for age and sex.

Their results showed that the prevalence of obesity in children with autism was 30.4% compared to 23.6% of children without autism. The authors concluded that children with autism have a high prevalence and risk of obesity and research needs to focus on the propensity of autistic children developing obesity.[40]

Citing a medical journal article, Spectrum News reported: "At least one in every three children and adolescents with autism is overweight or obese, finds a survey of nearly 3,000 individuals with the disorder".[41][42]

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults".[43]

Atheism and obesity

Currently, a significant portion of the atheist community is overweight/obese as can be seen by the articles cited below:

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[44] See: Atheist population

Secular Europe and obesity

See also: Secular Europe and obesity

In May 2014, the British paper The Mirror reported that according to the British medical journal Lancet, British girls are the most overweight girls in Western Europe.[45]

From a global perspective, secular Europe is more secular than the rest of the world although it does have a considerable amount of religious immigrants who have higher birth rates (see: Atheist population and Global atheism).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported:

Based on the latest estimates in European Union countries, overweight affects 30-70% and obesity affects 10-30% of adults.

Estimates of the number of overweight infants and children in the WHO European Region rose steadily from 1990 to 2008. Over 60% of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood.[46]

Atheistic China and obesity

China has the largest atheist population in the world.[47] In 2014, the British medical journal Lancet reported that the Chinese now have the second highest obesity rate in the world.[48][49] A recent study published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that Chinese teenagers' rate of diabetes was four times that of their American peers.[50] See: Atheism and obesity
See also: Atheistic China and obesity

In 2014, it was reported that China's obesity rate has skyrocketed in the last 30 years and the Chinese now have the second highest obesity rate in the world.[51][52] The Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 that China had approximately 300 million overweight people.[53] In 2014, the British medical journal Lancet analyzed weight trends in 188 countries and reported that more than 28% of Chinese adult men and 27% of the country’s adult women are now overweight or obese.[54]

According to a 2012 report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of obese children in China has reached 120 million.[55] A recent study published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that Chinese teenagers' rate of diabetes was four times that of their American peers.[56] Due to their past one-child policy, which had exceptions, China now has a lot of over-pampered and over-fed children.[57]

Matthew Crabbe, co-author of "Fat China: How Expanding Waistlines are Changing a Nation" declared that China's surging rate of obesity is "a ticking bomb" underneath the country's future economic growth and healthcare system.[58]

In 2014, The Economist declared in an article entitled Chubby little emperors:

MORE than 2,000 years ago “Huangdi Neijing”, a classic Chinese medical text, identified obesity as a disease caused by eating too much “fatty meats and polished grains”. Until a generation ago such a diet was an extravagance beyond imagination for all but the elite. But the Chinese waistline has since expanded, and at an alarming rate.

More than a quarter of the adult population, or roughly 350m people, is overweight or obese (more than 60m squeeze into the latter camp). That is at least twice as many as are under-nourished. With rising incomes and more diverse diets, Chinese people are consuming much more fatty food and fizzy drinks. Meals now contain more than twice as much oil and meats as in the 1980s.

This is producing a health calamity, both in heart disease (which now accounts for over a third of deaths) and in a less-noticed explosion of diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity. The prevalence of diabetes has grown more than tenfold during the past three decades. According to a recent national survey, 11.6% of Chinese adults are diabetic, a share almost as high as in America, whose obesity rate is much greater.

With a catastrophic famine still in living memory, it is little surprise that Chinese people have developed a taste for foods rich in fats and sugars.[59]

A recent study published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that Chinese teenagers' rate of diabetes was four times that of their American peers.[60]

United States: Religion/irreligion and obesity

Nate Phelps spoke at the 2009 American Atheists convention.[61][62] (photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement), Title: Nate Phelps AAC00 (a very brave man)

According to the Gallup Inc., "Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious."[63]

Gallup further declares:

Very religious Americans make healthier choices than their moderately religious and nonreligious counterparts across all four of the Healthy Behavior Index metrics, including smoking, healthy eating, and regular exercise. Smoking is one area of particular differentiation between the very religious and less religious Americans, with the nonreligious 85% more likely to be smokers than those who are very religious.[64]

A 2010 study reported in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that for Korean women living in California, religion "may help prevent obesity."[65]

Irreligion/religion, recent generations in the United States and obesity

See also: Irreligion/religion, recent generations in the United States and obesity

In the United States at the present time, the greater the degree of irreligiosity in a generation, the higher their obesity rate is. For more information, please see the three articles directly below.

Irreligion, various generations in the United States and obesity rates

Atheist organizations/groups and obesity

See also

Notes

  1. Religious Belief Systems of Persons with High Functioning Autism, Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Caitlin Fox Murphy and Tessa Velazquez at the Department of Psychology - Boston University); Patrick McNamara (Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine)
  2. Is atheism linked to autism? Controversial study points to relationship between the two, Daily Mail, 20 September 2011
  3. What atheism and autism may have in common By Razib Khan, September 19, 2011
  4. Does Autism Lead to Atheism?, Psychology Today, May 30, 2012 by Matthew Hutson
  5. Likening of autistic kids to atheists causes fury, ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News, April/22/2013
  6. The socially autistic atheist by Vox Day, August 02, 2007
  7. A lesson in atheist social autism by Vox Day, August 13, 2014
  8. Atheists and Daddy issues by Vox Day, August 23, 2012
  9. PZ admits he's wrong by Theodore Beale, Friday, August 29, 2014
  10. Interpreting Asperger's Test Results
  11. Autism in Africa?, Jonathan Rabinovitz published in Scope, a publication of Stanford Medicine, 2011
  12. Out of Africa and Into Autism: More Evidence Illuminates the Somali Anomaly in Minnesota, By Mark F. Blaxill, AgeofAutism.com website (I don't agree with the anti-vaccine portion of the article)
  13. The African apostles: How Christianity exploded in 20th-century Africa
  14. Autism in Africa?, Jonathan Rabinovitz published in Scope, a publication of Stanford Medicine, 2011
  15. Autism and Toxic Chemicals: Are Pollutants Fueling Rising Prevalence?
  16. Autism rates rise in U.S., plateau in U.K.
  17. Autism Linked to Toxin Exposure During Pregnancy
  18. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth, Eric Kaufmann, 2011, page 280, footnote 13 [1]
  19. World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office in Europe- Alcohol usage of Europe
  20. Pharmacol Res. 2015 Sep 25;102:71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2015.09.011. Epigenetic mechanisms: A possible link between autism spectrum disorders and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Varadinova M1, Boyadjieva N2.
  21. Alcohol and Autism, AlcoholRehab.com
  22. Int J Epidemiol. 2010 Aug;39(4):1074-81. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyq056. Epub 2010 Apr 5. Prenatal alcohol exposure and autistic spectrum disorders--a population-based prospective study of 80,552 children and their mothers. Eliasen M1, Tolstrup JS, Nybo Andersen AM, Grønbaek M, Olsen J, Strandberg-Larsen K.
  23. Reprod Toxicol. 2015 Aug 15;56:155-69. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 May 27. Prenatal factors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ornoy A1, Weinstein-Fudim L2, Ergaz Z3.
  24. Study: Autism Linked to Antidepressant Drug Use During Pregnancy
  25. Reprod Toxicol. 2015 Aug 15;56:155-69. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 May 27. Prenatal factors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ornoy A1, Weinstein-Fudim L2, Ergaz Z3.
  26. Atheists in the Bible Belt, CNN
  27. Counting Immigrants in Cities across the Globe
  28. Autism in Africa?, Jonathan Rabinovitz published in Scope, a publication of Stanford Medicine, 2011
  29. Out of Africa and Into Autism: More Evidence Illuminates the Somali Anomaly in Minnesota, By Mark F. Blaxill, AgeofAutism.com website (I don't agree with the anti-vaccine portion of the article)
  30. Christianity/Islam and Africa
    • 4 healthy habits to steal from the Amish, Fox News Health, December 04, 2014
    • "Amish Have Lower Rates of Cancer, Ohio State Study Shows". Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Medical Center. January 1, 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
    • Puffenberger, EG; Jinks, RN; Wang, H; Xin, B; Fiorentini, C; Sherman, EA; Degrazio, D; Shaw, C; Sougnez, C; Cibulskis, K; Gabriel, S; Kelley, RI; Morton, DH; Strauss, KA (Dec 2012). "A homozygous missense mutation in HERC2 associated with global developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder". Human Mutation 33 (12): 1639–1646
    • Jackman, C; Horn, ND; Molleston, JP; Sokol, DK (Apr 2009). "Gene associated with seizures, autism, and hepatomegaly in an Amish girl". Pediatric Neurology 40 (4): 310–313.
    • Alarcón, Maricela; Abrahams, Brett S.; Stone, Jennifer L.; Duvall, Jacqueline A.; Perederiy, Julia V.; Bomar, Jamee M.; Sebat, Jonathan; Wigler, Michael; Martin, Christa L.; Ledbetter, David H.; Nelson, Stanley F.; Cantor, Rita M.; Geschwind, Daniel H. (10 January 2008). "Linkage, Association, and Gene-Expression Analyses Identify CNTNAP2 as an Autism-Susceptibility Gene". American Journal of Human Genetics 82 (1): 150–159
  31. Puffenberger, EG; Jinks, RN; Wang, H; Xin, B; Fiorentini, C; Sherman, EA; Degrazio, D; Shaw, C; Sougnez, C; Cibulskis, K; Gabriel, S; Kelley, RI; Morton, DH; Strauss, KA (Dec 2012). "A homozygous missense mutation in HERC2 associated with global developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder". Human Mutation 33 (12): 1639–1646
  32. Jackman, C; Horn, ND; Molleston, JP; Sokol, DK (Apr 2009). "Gene associated with seizures, autism, and hepatomegaly in an Amish girl". Pediatric Neurology 40 (4): 310–313.
  33. Alarcón, Maricela; Abrahams, Brett S.; Stone, Jennifer L.; Duvall, Jacqueline A.; Perederiy, Julia V.; Bomar, Jamee M.; Sebat, Jonathan; Wigler, Michael; Martin, Christa L.; Ledbetter, David H.; Nelson, Stanley F.; Cantor, Rita M.; Geschwind, Daniel H. (10 January 2008). "Linkage, Association, and Gene-Expression Analyses Identify CNTNAP2 as an Autism-Susceptibility Gene". American Journal of Human Genetics 82 (1): 150–159
  34. For Amish, fastest-growing faith group in US, life is changing
  35. Autism and obesity, Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD., News-Medical.net
  36. Medical records find evidence linking autism to obesity by Marissa Fessenden, Spectrum News, 21 July 2014
  37. Broder-Fingert S. et al. Acad. Pediatr. 14, 408-414 (2014)
  38. Childhood Obesity Facts, Centers for Disease Control, 2014
  39. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  40. British girls are FATTEST in western Europe claims alarming new research by The Lancet, Mirror, Ben Burrows, May 29, 2014 10:52
  41. World Health Organization - Regional Office for Europe - The challenge of obesity - quick statistics
  42. As Obesity Rises, Chinese Kids Are Almost as Fat as Americans, Wall Street Journal Chinarealtime, May 29, 2014
  43. Chubby China: Nation of 300 Million Overweight People
  44. Obesity is a growing concern in China By Pang Li, China.org.cn, September 14, 2012
  45. As Obesity Rises, Chinese Kids Are Almost as Fat as Americans, Wall Street Journal Chinarealtime, May 29, 2014
  46. Chubby China: Nation of 300 Million Overweight People
  47. Chubby China: Nation of 300 Million Overweight People
  48. As Obesity Rises, Chinese Kids Are Almost as Fat as Americans, Wall Street Journal Chinarealtime, May 29, 2014
  49. Child Obesity Reaches 120 Million in China
  50. Obesity is a growing concern in China By Pang Li, China.org.cn, September 14, 2012
  51. Rising Chinese Child Obesity and Fat Camps
  52. Obesity is a growing concern in China By Pang Li, China.org.cn, September 14, 2012
  53. Chubby little emperors, The Economist, June 14th 2014|BEIJING|From the print edition
  54. Obesity is a growing concern in China By Pang Li, China.org.cn, September 14, 2012
  55. http://lifewithoutfaith.com/?p=183
  56. Huffington Post, May 2012
  57. http://www.gallup.com/poll/145379/Religious-Americans-Lead-Healthier-Lives.aspx
  58. http://www.gallup.com/poll/145379/Religious-Americans-Lead-Healthier-Lives.aspx
  59. Can religion help prevent obesity? Religious messages and the prevalence of being overweight or obese among Korean women in California. J Sci Study Relig. 2010;49(3):536-49. Ayers JW1, Hofstetter CR, Irvin VL, Song Y, Park HR, Paik HY, Hovell MF.