SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah medical researchers are studying whether the kind of periodic fasting encouraged by the Mormon church can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center are seeking 12 study participants with metabolic issues, such as high blood sugar or obesity, who will fast roughly once a week over a five-week period.

Benjamin Horne of the hospital's Intermountain Heart Institute says researchers have long credited Utah's low heart attack rate to the fact that many of its residents are Mormon and don't smoke. Horne says that got him thinking about other religion-motivated habits that might help the body.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urges members to skip food and water for one day each month as a way to grow closer to God.