A new study by Coventry University has revealed that if you are religious, you are more likely to be fat than non-believers.

According to a study for the Journal of Religion and Health, which examined 7,400 people, those who have faith in the existence of God are likely to have larger body mass indexes (BMIs).

"Evidence of this association was strongest among those affiliated to a Christian religion," said Dr Deborah Lycett, a senior lecturer in dietetics at Coventry University.

"A significantly higher waist-to-hip ratio was also seen in Christian and Sikh men. The association between religion and obesity is unclear and unexplored in the general English population.

"Some of this was explained demographically, but it was not accounted for by smoking status, alcohol consumption or physical activity level.

"Religious communities may need greater healthy weight promotion or benefit from tailored interventions built on their beliefs."

The study of 7,414 adults over 16, who were quizzed for the 2012 Health Survey for England, showed that those self-described as "religious" were on average 0.91kg per square metre higher on the BMI scale - a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

People with a BMI between 18.5kg and 25kg per square metre have a healthy weight, whereas those with a BMI over 30 are classed as obese.

Christians were found to be the most flabby, while Sikh men came in close second in the study.

Only Buddhists were found to have a healthier BMI than athiests.