Thu, Jan. 05, 2012 Posted: 02:05 PM
In my last post I wrote about studies that have shown that religious activity, specifically church attendance, has been shown to be related to higher levels of obesity. According to several studies, people who regularly attend church are more likely to be obese than those who do not regularly attend. I find this disturbing.
It's not the simple fact that these people are obese in and of itself that is the issue. But the research clearly shows that obesity is linked to higher rates of mortality and other related diseases. Obesity in the United States is also a $179 billion burden on our economy. When obese people have to conend with many of the associated health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers these conditions require treatment and the treatment costs money. Imagine if even a fraction of this money could be directed towards missions and the needy. Wouldn't that be a better use of the money?
Obesity and many other lifestyle-related diseases are often a spiritual issue. People who are obese and who often struggle with related conditions and diseases are hampered in their ability to fully function as God designed us all to function. If they were normal weight they'd likely have more energy to put into service to others and to use the gifts and talents God has given them. If they were normal weight, they would be less of a burden to the economy of our country. Their money not spent on health-related care could be available to be put to work for the Kingdom.
I've briefly covered just two very practical reasons why it would be helpful for followers of Christ to not be very overweight or obese. And obesity is just one of many health-related issue that believers and church-goers struggle with.
My concern is that, for the most part, the leadership of churches in America are neglecting to address not only obesity but the personal physical health of members of their congregation. Why do I say this? The prevelance of obesity among regular church attenders is one clear indicator. We all know that being obese is not good for us as individuals or for us as a nation. Yet, the high incidence of obesity in churches is there and it continues. If pastors of our churches placed a priority on the health of their flock, this high incidence of obesity in our churches would not be there.
Resolutions for Pastors and Church Leaders
At the beginning of the year a lot of us make resolutions to better care for ourselves and our health is one area we target. Perhaps this year, pastors and leaders of houses of faith could resolve to make the personal health of members of their congregation a long-term focus and priority. If this were to happen across our country, then I believe that not only could the obesity rates of church attenders be reduced, but there could be a measurable improvement in most other lifestyle-related health conditions.
Trends in Healthy Churches
Thom Rainer has just today posted a guest column on the Christian Post titled Twelve in 2012 - Trends in Healthy Churches. At the writing of this column, he's suggessted six trends, of which none address the actual health of the church members. Perhaps he could be convinced to include this "trend" in his next set of six trends - long-term initiattives to care for the health of church members - now that would be a novel idea!
Queations for Reflection and Comments
What's your explanation as to why regular church attendees are more obese than those who do not regularly attend church?
Pastors and church leaders, what are your reasons or obstacles for not making the physical health of your church members a "trend" - one of the focuses of your teachings and ministries?