Kentucky has a problem, and it’s not just a problem in this state. It’s in fact an endemic problem throughout America, but some places are worse than others. Particularly in my own portion of the country, the South, it is a huge, one could say weighty, one could say obese problem. For the record, I’m not talking about people who have inherited problems that they have to fight their entire lives to stay reasonably fit. I’m talking about diet and exercise, because frankly the atrocities of the former and the lack of the latter are the real source of the problem for the majority of people with weight issues.
In my lifetime, there has been the proliferation of fast food restaurants, serving up mostly stuff that one should not eat or drink on a regular basis. The problem is so bad in eastern Kentucky in part because parents are even giving their babies Mountain Dew in their sippy cups, which then rots out their baby teeth. This is parents behaving badly. Of course the further problem is poverty, because junk food tends to be cheaper.
Sounding the alarm are all sorts of medical reports from reliable clinics and doctors. For example, chew on this—–“The US obesity prevalence was 41.9% in March 2020. from 2017 to March 2020, US obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 41.9%. During the same time, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.”
There are no health benefits to eating junk food. Quite the opposite. “Obesity in the United States is a major health issue resulting in numerous diseases, specifically increased risk of certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, as well as significant increases in early mortality and economic costs.” Behold an obesity map from May of 2022.
Yes those red states are where the obesity rate is at 40% or above. Starting with my generation of Baby Boomers, and accelerating into the present, the studies show that Gen Xers and Millenials are in trouble when it comes to propensity towards obesity, and again it has to do with diet and exercise.
Here is one medical report—– ” Generation X generally refers to Americans born between 1965 and 1980, while millennials (or Generation Y) are typically said to include people born between 1981 and the mid-1990s. In this study, the range was 1981 to 1999.
In general, both generations were worse off when it came to “physiological dysregulation,” which includes problems like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, excess belly fat, and substances in the blood that suggest the body is in a state of chronic inflammation.
Signs of physiological dysregulation started to increase with the baby boomer generation — compared to people born before 1946 — and continued to worsen from there, the study authors said.
Physiological dysregulation is considered a precursor to various chronic diseases, and a risk factor for earlier death, said study leader Hui Zheng, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University in Columbus.
An obvious potential suspect is obesity. And Zheng’s analysis suggested rising obesity rates explained part of the deteriorating physical health trend, but not all of it.
“The declining health among younger generations is not just an individual problem, but more a societal problem,” Zheng said. “Society needs to change the [obesity-promoting] environment, reduce inequality and enhance job security for younger generations.”
And here is the point that I turn to some Christian principles that should be involved in this discussion. First of all, a person’s body is a gift from God. It is not yours to do with as you please (are you listening advocates for abortion on demand???). Secondly, the NT is clear enough that you should take care of your body, not least because the living presence of God dwells within you if you are a believer. What kind of witness is it if you abuse your body with bad food, drugs, lack of exercise, etc.? I tell you what it is— it’s a bad witness.
I was once asked to speak at the Southern Baptist Convention, and when I got on the platform what I saw was a coliseum mostly full of overweight, and in many cases badly overweight pastors and their wives. It was beyond depressing. Yes, I know that food can provide comfort when one is dealing with all sorts of stressful situations in ministry. I get it. But have you never considered that your eating behavior is both shortening and limiting your ministry potential and your life itself?? The old running joke used to be ‘what do two Methodists or Baptists say to each other when they meet in the liquor store?’ Answer— Nothing, they know they aren’t supposed to be there.’ The joke could be changed to– ‘when they meet in an all you can eat buffet, or a fast food restaurant’.
Probably all of us in America these days could name friends and family they have lost due to ill health, ill health at least in part caused by bad diet and little or no exercise. And please, I am not talking about resorting to fad diets and sporadic exercising. I’m talking about regularly limiting your intake of fatty foods, of high calorie and low nutrition items, and instead of regularly eating your portions of healthy vegetables and fruits that are good for you, while limiting the amount of meat (regularly substituting fish– and not fried fish either), high fat dairy products (including some desserts), grains etc. Binge eating is about as bad as binge spending, and while we are at it— never go to the grocery store right before you are needing to eat a meal. Everything on the aisle looks good when you do that, and you are likely to come home with a lot of junk.
I hope this post will help at least some Christians to think seriously about their eating habits. I’d like the younger generations of Christians to outlive people like myself who will be 71 this year.