Over the next few weeks, I’m going to release a series of posts regarding a driving conviction that I’ve had for years – the overlap of Christianity and the obesity epidemic. That connection is the main reason I became a personal trainer; for my masters thesis, and for much of my work on a theology of the body.
I believe the increasing obesity epidemic is a threat to the church’s future ministry ability and effectiveness in the world. I hope to convince you of that in these posts.
Ever since I started my blog, the tagline has been: treating the body well begins with thinking well of the body, which came from recognizing the overlap of Christianity and obesity.
If you don’t think much of your body, don’t appreciate its abilities, or consider it the source of sin and devalue it compared to the soul, it’s likely the way you treat your body will reflect that thinking. After all, we care for what we value. We overlook whatever is considered less important, and we neglect or even disdain things seen as obstacles, hindrances, or burdens.
Incidentally, this reflects the Corinthians’ thinking that bred immoral, licentious living. For more on connecting Scripture to the way we think about and treat the body, read what I wrote about Paul dealing with the same issues in 1 Corinthians.
1. I ask that you have an open mind and be willing to read all the posts in this series.
1. These posts are not meant to point fingers but to raise awareness of a reality that should concern all believers. In other posts, I’ve shared my own struggles of failing to steward my body to the glory of God. While my battle has been different, thinking about and treating your body in ways that honor God should be the Christian’s goal no matter the struggle.
If I said, the most religious states are also the most charitable states, that connection would make sense. Or if I said, the most religious states are also the most friendly states, you’d likely agree. But what if I said:
I recognized this alarming link between the most religious states and most obese states in my late teens while completing a personal training certification. Since then, the numbers have only worsened.
The 10 most religious states are: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. (Religiosity determined by belief in God, church attendance, prayer, and importance of personal faith.)
About 20 years ago, Purdue University conducted a study that found Southern Baptists are the most obese religious group in the country. Ironically, the lowest incidence of obesity is among irreligious, non-Christians. While there are factors such as Southern culture that contribute to this reality, to be clear, the study did not show that obesity increases religious activity. Rather, it questions the influence of our beliefs on our actions.
Currently, 2 in 5 adults are obese. 1 in 5 kids are obese.
Obesity is the 2nd leading cause of preventable death.
Over the next 10 years, the progression of obesity will be staggering. In 29 states, the rate of obesity will reach at least 50%, and the states with the highest rates now will be closer to 60% obese. The least obese states will reach at least 35% of the population, with most projected to be at 40%. When you consider that the highest state is currently at 39.7% and lowest state at 24.2% obesity, the trajectory is truly shocking.
In the next post, I’ll look at the obesity epidemic in more detail.