Supersize Me

If you want to find an alternative tack to discouraging people from active religious participation, what might you do in a media-saturated, image-obsessed culture?

Allege that regular religious participation somehow contributes to or results in obesity.
I decided to try and research this a bit further.  Here is the apparent source article for the above link.  And here is a slightly expanded and more fascinating article on the subject.  The last article goes a bit deeper while containing all of the salient material from the other two, so I want to examine it.
I find it interesting that being “highly religious” means attending at least one religious event per week.   What is considered “average religious” if regular participation is considered the mark of the “highly” religious?
There’s also no mention of a definition for religion.  What religious affiliations were included in this study, and in what percentages?  Having grown up in a culture of pot lucks and other home-cooking church events, my immediate perception was that this study focused on Christians, but there’s nothing that seems to indicate that in any of the articles.  I think it was the quote on “associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods” that might have triggered Christian associations for me.  While theologically skewed Christians are by no means the only religion in the world that focus on good works and happiness, they certainly are the most prominent religious group in this country.  
I think it’s interesting that the lead author cites a concern about premature deaths among groups identified as at risk for obesity – in this case religious folk.  Yet the article also cites that religious folk seem to live longer on average.  How do these two facts fit together?  
I think the speculation on gluttony as an acceptable sin is an interesting one.  It would seem to say that there is an intentionality behind eating trends among the highly religious.  Sort of a matter of I’m not allowed to do anything else I want to do, so I’m definitely having seconds on the fried chicken and butter pecan pie.  I think that most religious folk would take exception to such a simplistic assertion, though I have to admit it’s eerily attractive….
I’ll withhold comment on the Bod 4 God book referenced in the article, since I’m not directly familiar with the book.  However, I tend to see these sorts of things as wielding a clumsy legalism as a means of guilting people into making changes in their lifestyle.  I’m all for being healthy-minded in every aspect of our lives, but distrust the use of theology (with the associated consumerism of books, workbooks, diet journals, DVDs, etc.).  
I’m all for being healthy.  And whenever people get together for any reason, I hope that this will be something that they are aware of.  There are many simple things that can be done to encourage healthy snacking and eating without turning this into some sort of full-fledged campaign.  If being highly religious means attending one church event a week, I’d hate to waste that small amount of time on promoting healthy eating instead of talking about the God who created us and sustains us.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s