[Introduction] This has been on my heart for a long time (a very, very long time).
As I look around the faith community I see a few common denominators:
- We go to church
- We love food (a lot of the wrong food and drink)
- We are unhealthy
Until last year (2013) America was ranked number one in the world for obesity (Mexico recently took the number one spot and America moved to second place).
By the year 2030 obesity related health care costs are estimated to reach $550 Billion in yearly costs if current obesity rates continue. That’s a ton of money spent on a preventable disease!
By 2030 51% of people will be obese. (And obesity contributes to all kinds of health problems including cancer.)
Current obesity-related sick care (i.e. “health care”) costs are at an outrageous figure of $147 to $210 billion a year.
Currently 1 in 3 children are obese.
For adults, 2 in 3 are obese. That's 1 Billion adults globally.
Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14.1 billion in direct costs alone (yearly).
Furthermore, the obesity rates across the continental states are predominantly in the Bible Belt territory. This is one of the biggest dichotomies in (Christian) society today. As a faith community we should be the example to others of how we should take care of our whole body, not just one part of it.
With more and more people being diagnosed with cancer and other diseases and childhood obesity increasing at a staggering rate, I believe it’s time for the faith community as a whole to start doing something about this preventable problem.
Using a title from a great documentary, we don’t have to be fat, sick and nearly dead! God made us to live abundantly healthy lives, not sick, just-getting-by lives!
Grace and prayer are two amazing parts of our faith. But using them as a Hail Mary when we’ve not treated our bodies the way God intended us to, is, in my understanding, irresponsible. God asks us to be good stewards with our money, time and yes, body.
I believe that the faith community should be on the forefront of this health crisis. So far we’ve done a terrible job on this front. Almost every event centers around toxic food. There is diabetes for breakfast (donuts and coffee with sugar) at the welcoming table. Men’s Breakfast centers around arty-clogging food-like products (nitrate-made bacon, gravy, biscuits, steak, eggs and ham). Fall Festivals are packed with hyperactivity and disease like cancer (candy). ("Food" dyes are linked to tumors and cancer*.) Caring for only the spiritual needs and neglecting the physical, emotional needs is an unbalanced approach to living the life God wants us to.
(Yes, there have been a few programs (i.e. The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren) started to help with this ever-growing problem, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.)
My passion and goal for quite some time now is to come along side The Church and the faith community to equip and educate them on how to start the conversation of healthy living and turn it into a wellness revolution. That’s why the salt/light project was born.
I have many pastor friends and I know they have a ton on their plate (no pun intended). The last thing I want to do is add more to their to-do list! So, this series is going to attempt to start the conversation that is so desperately needed in the faith community. If you are in a leadership position at your church, a pastor, a pastor’s wife, worship leader/leader’s spouse, or any other influential person in the faith space, will you share this series with those you care about? Will you join me in helping America regain their health? And lastly, can you pray that hearts will be open to this information? Talking about food and weight is not an easy talk to have! But we can’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer.
There are many facets to the obesity crisis that is sweeping America. Wellness is not singular, it’s plural. Just like being spiritual or having faith isn’t just going to church every Sunday, so too is wellness. Living a healthy life includes a healthy mind+body+spirit. And this includes what we put into our body (food and drink).
This series will try to attempt to shed some light on topics not commonly discussed in the faith sector. It’s a (health) message that is so desperately needed! We’ll discuss the kind of food and drink we are consuming in greater detail as the majority of our health problems stem from toxic food. Exercise is great, but if you aren’t eating nutrient-dense food, fighting disease is null. (You don’t need to wait to read future articles tho, just browse through our website to learn more about what you are putting in your body!)
Here are few topics that will be tackled and discussed:
- Ethics, fair trade and our food supply (we say we’re against human trafficking, but what do our food purchases say?)
- Eating and cooking with real food to prevent disease and illness
- Exercise: living complacent or active lives?
- Events: centered around faith or toxic food?
Regardless of what denomination you attend and whether you go to church twice a year or every weekend, there is no discrimination here. This series applies to everyone.
And as always if you need further help, we are always here to support you in your wellness journey!
Next week part one of this series begins with an article written by Kristina DeMuth on Big Food and Faith Communities. Don't miss it!
Updated links to articles in this series:
Part Two (by Kristina DeMuth)
Part Three (by Kristina DeMuth)
Part Four (by Kristina DeMuth
Part Five (by Kristina DeMuth)
Part Six (by Sarah Stanley)
U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization