Link Between the Church and Weight Problems

Did you hear about the new statistic that links attending church with obesity?
I was both sad and angry when I heard the anchor person say on the news last night that “church might be good for the soul, but it might not be so good for the waist line” She went on to describe how research has shown a greater weight gain in people who attend church at least once a week than those who don’t.

I can’t say that I was surprised about this announcement, but I sure was angry at the devil for humiliating the church like that, and I was sad for the thousands of Christians who struggle with their weight.

I have written a lot on this subject so I’m adding one of my earlier articles below. It’s a bit long, but something I think every Christian should be aware of.


Please Read:

I recently stumbled upon an article “Lard have Mercy: The Christian obesity epidemic”.

It was very interesting and although the author sadly showed an obvious prejudice towards Christians, I couldn’t help but agree with some of the points being made. The author based the article on Ferraro’s most recent study, published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, a follow-up to a study he published in 1998, where he found there were more obese people in states with larger populations of folks claiming a religious affiliation than elsewhere, particularly in states with the most Baptists.

I grew up in a Christian home, and I love the church, but even I can not shut my eyes to the fact the we have grown, to put it mildly, “bigger” over the years. Now of course this problem is widespread. Everybody knows by now that obesity has become an epidemic in America with more than half of the populations suffering from this. So the church has not been isolated in it’s denial of the eminent dangers associated with obesity.

The truth is that we as Christians did, for a long time, tolerate the sin of gluttony in our midst. I grew up seeing a lot of overweight people in church, including the pastors, and I never even gave it a second thought. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way condemning overweight people, that would make me a hypocrite seeing that I have struggled with food for many years, and still have to fight off the enemy in this area.

I’m afraid the church’s denial of this problem didn’t help though. We don’t allow alcohol at our meetings, and preach against the dangers of drunkenness. Some congregations have even switched to grape juice for communion to not give alcoholics the opportunity to stumble. All kinds of addiction programs sprung up over the years, and we have reached out a hand to help people overcome these. Pastors do their part by preaching against the lusts of the flesh that the Bible warns of. However, for a very long time, we ignored the fact that food can also become an idol; something to numb pain and help you deal with life; a drug of choice.

Until a few years back I found it so hard to keep my food addiction at bay while being actively involved in church. It is true that we can not pin it all on the church, then we will be no different than the people blaming MacDonalds for their obesity. But we also have to wake up to the truth that to beat obesity in our generation will take a team effort. Yes, individuals need to change, and families need to take a hard look at their lifestyles, but big institutions and government agencies have a role to play in winning this war against obesity. So the church can’t just passively sit by, refusing to change with the times.

It is true that the church, like the rest of the world, gather around food for all occasions. Granted at a secular party there would be alcohol too, but there will always be room for rich food and decadent desserts on the menu. Likewise, every meeting and gathering at the church have been a place for the ladies to bring their best dishes to the table, and best would hardly ever equal healthy in years past. In fact, if I brought a plate of vegetables to a church function a few years back, nobody would probably eat it, and I would have opened myself up for some serious criticism.

Have things changed? I think so. We’re getting there, slowly but surely, just like everybody else. There are more fruit, vegetables and healthy dishes at the meetings these days. It’s still fun to gather around food, and lots of times our meetings are right at lunch or dinner time anyway. However, our church gets it meals delivered from Subway these days.

There is also an awakening in many churches to the fact that God made us to move. Many churches have added gyms to their complexes, and some small groups are dedicated to help people get fit and loose some weight.
In recent years many books have been written to help Christians get their weight under control and programs such as First Place have been gaining popularity with their excellent material and support groups.

So I do think the church are realizing that our casual take on overeating is not good for us and it’s hurting our children. However, we still have a long way to go. Not everybody is convinced, and one can’t help but wonder why not, if all the evidence are on the table. Can it be that the love for food has become too big to let go of the rich decadent dishes? Also, habits don’t change over night and certain food became part of our traditions, making it all the more difficult to let it go. But I, for one, will encourage people to grieve these “food traditions” and start new traditions in order to save their lives and the lives of their children.

I am joining many Christians in the war against obesity in the church. If you are a Christian struggling with food, my heart goes out to you. It is not an easy struggle, in fact it can be very lonely in a church where people don’t talk about it and still pile the tables high with rich, fatty foods.

You can find help on my website that I created especially for women and moms dealing with eating disorders and food addiction. Make no mistake, it’s not just people with anorexia and bulimia who have an eating disorder. Anybody who doesn’t eat in a normal, healthy way needs help in this area. Come see for yourself, it’s online so you can do this program in the safety of your own home and at your own pace.

I must admit that after I heard that “proclamation” on TV last night, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me again to bring my own “crutches” that I’ve picked up recently and lay them down. The world is watching us, and the fact is, we do have the answer; His name is JESUS and he came to set the captives free!

In His Love,
Heleen

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Link Between the Church and Weight Problems”

  1. You make many great points and I agree with them. For a few years now I have been joking that I now have a sweet tooth because of all my baking friends. They are all moms with small kids as well, so there a lot of factors. But, I think the biggest factor in my Souther Baptist church, is that we need to have food at every event. And the person volunteering to cook, wants to cook something yummy and impress the crowd, which means the selection won’t be “heatlhy.” Thats just usually the case. I stopped signing up for Sunday school snacks. I make time for breakfast and when someone gets annoyed because someone forgot their turn then I think we lost the point. Food shouldn’t be a “must” for every event considering the resources that go into that, much of which could go to feeding the poor in our community Jesus commands us to help. Same can be said for Bible studies. Snacks are great because Bible studies are longer and their is time for fellowship but when you look forward more to the food than the worship, once again we’ve lost sight. Ofcourse, it starts out innocently. You give someone a compliment for the treats offered and sub consciously he or she feels compelled to do the same or better next time for guests. Anyway, food is too much of a focus. I agree.

  2. Dear Heleen, thankyou so much for your fantastic e book and for all you have written on this site, it’s reassuring to find someone who understands.
    I’ve been struggling with food for 8 yrs now since I started putting on weight at the age of 19. I overeat and sneak food, I’ve often felt like a slave to overeating and felt food has been an idol to me, I feel bad when I turn to food instead of God. I think I have body dismorphia disorder, I feel too ugly to live sometimes. I only want to lose a stone but I feel like life can’t begin until I do.
    Recently I fasted for two wks cos I wanted to kill off this thing, be completely surrendered and of course lose weight. I felt so free and thought I’d overcome it but as soon as I started eating again, it’s been worse than ever.
    I’ve given up a quick fix and managed a couple of sober day’s, that seems the way forward!
    I really appreciate all you have it’s hard to believe that one woman has so much wisdom, thank God for you! :o)

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