So far we have touched on several topics with Cheeseburgers and The Church: In Part Two of Cheeseburgers and The Church, I talked about Big Food Industry and the its role in human slavery and poverty. In Cheeseburgers and The Church Part Three, I discussed how our cheap meat and animal-sourced foods, highly refined food products are failing to provide stewardship to the Earth, non-human life, as well as human health. In Cheeseburgers and The Church Part Four, I discussed my frustration with Faith Based organizations promoting unhealthy food options in their church gatherings, mission work, and volunteer service projects. (If you missed why this series started, read the introduction here.)
Today, I am going to muse on faith, money, and health. I know for a fact that in the Christian community, people are called to be good stewards of their financial resources. I would argue that all humans, for the sake of the common good, should be good stewards with their financial resources too. When it comes to "cheap" food (e.g. fast food, cheap meat, processed food, sugar sweetened beverages), we are "investing" in expensive health risks for ourselves, our families, and greater society. In one of my public health classes, I learned that each year America spends well over $2 TRILLION dollars on health care .... with only 3% of that $2 Trillion going to public health work (PREVENTION). These numbers are ASTRONOMICAL! Especially, considering that we spend more on health care than any other country, yet we still aren't doing better (in terms of health) than other developed countries.....
Chronic diseases, which many are PREVENTABLE with lifestyle choices, are largely to blame for our high cost of health. In fact the CDC's website states:
"As a nation, 75% of our health care dollars goes to treatment of chronic diseases. These persistent conditions—the nation’s leading causes of death and disability—leave in their wake deaths that could have been prevented, lifelong disability, compromised quality of life, and burgeoning health care costs."
"Each year, about 585,720 Americans die of cancer; around one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight."
Additionally, the CDC predicts that by 2050: 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes!!! In 2007, diabetes alone costed $174 billion in direct and indirect causes! Type 2 Diabetes, which makes up about 90-95% of all cases of Diabetes in America, is PREVENTABLE with lifestyle habits like healthy eating, being physical activity, and maintaining healthy weight.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the cause of death for about 1 in 4 Americans, has officially become the number one killer for men and women in America. The CDC reports: "CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity." CVD is preventable!!!!
Everyday, I am becoming more convinced that people are wired for temptation, procrastination, and impatience. In America, we expect fast and quick results... immediate gratification for our desires, "needs", and happiness. We spend money foolishly on food because "it tastes good" rather than investing in food that does our body good. We don't see food as fuel and "medicine".... we procrastinate to take care of our health, and we are impatient to see results of our change in lifestyle (eating more whole, real foods or increasing physical activity). We want to see immediate results.... so we invest in expensive, and often times, unhealthy weight loss supplements. OR we "give-up" on trying to live healthy--we just stop. OR we decide that we don't need to worry about chronic diseases now because we are young--- BUT the truth is that chronic disease starts YOUNG. Children develop tastes for foods, they are rewarded with "treats" at sporting events, and grow up believing that they are "invincible" to chronic health diseases----BUT the truth is THEY ARE NOT. Children throughout the United States are being faced with "adult" diseases like diabetes, hypertension..... fatty streaks (from high cholesterol) are building-up in the arteries of young children. I will never forget learning about this in my Intro to Nutrition class 7 years ago..... It's shameful, especially when we have been given so many wonderful and health promoting resources (beautiful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans.....). Eating "foolishly" is costing us more than just our financial resources, however, it's taking away quality years of life that could be spent living to our greatest potential. It's taking away from our quality of work, and our years to spend with families......our time, feelings, and relationships are invaluable and can not be replaced. Chronic health conditions are often intangible ..... but when you start to believe in PREVENTION and believe that YOU have have control over your health, then things happen....
The beauty is that WE DO KNOW from research that eating whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, can help reduce risk of chronic health diseases and lower risk of all-cause mortality. Additionally, eating can TASTE AMAZING and doesn't have to break the bank (see: Oh She Glow's for plant-based recipes and plant-based on a budget). Eating healthy is a rather cheap form of health care that comes with additional benefits (possibly: increasing natural energy, maintaining a healthy weight, increased positive moods....). Being physically active can also be inexpensive and easy! You don't need a gym membership to move your body. Going for a walk, riding bikes, swimming in a lake..... wall sits, push-ups, jumping rope planks, jump squats, yoga moves, sit-ups, taking the stairs.... if you are are reading this, then I am sure you can find a youtube workout video to motivate you! The library also has videos and books for rent. Make physical activity apart of your daily routine.
Don't believe me about prevention and lifestyle!? Then watch this....
Do I need to explain more? What you eat matters for your health, the health of your family, and the health of your community!
Faith communities can and SHOULD respond to this health crisis in America. Some faith communities are responding to these health issues, which I find really refreshing! (see: Faithful Families, eat smart move more, ).... and I hope that more faith communities will RISE to the challenge to be PROACTIVE, STEWARDS to the Earth, to financial resources, and to all human health.
To paraphrase what my Haitian friend and I had conversed about last month, we can't expect God to save us from our foolishness. We are killing ourselves by ignoring the power of our choice. We must acknowledge our individual and community responsibilities to care for the Earth, our human bodies, as well as non-human life.
Now GO be a good steward--- spend your money wisely, live in prevention, and shine your light!!!!
Read Part Six here.
In good health,