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Austin Cline

Religion and Obesity

By December 2, 2003

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If gluttony is a deadly sin, why are higher rates of obesity associated with greater religious dedication? If America is a Christian Nation, why is America the fattest nation in the world? Should American Christians be a little more concerned about gluttony?

Jim Holt writes for the Boston Globe:

According to a 1998 Purdue University study, obesity is associated with higher levels of religious participation. (Broken down by creed, Southern Baptists have the highest body-mass index on average, Catholics are in the middle, and Jews and other non-Christians are the lowest.) When this finding was brought to the attention of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, he was unperturbed. "I know gluttony is a bad thing," Falwell said. "But I don't know many gluttons." That is one way out of the dilemma -- to deny that overweight people are necessarily sinful gluttons. But it could also be that gluttony is not really a sin.

True, maybe gluttony shouldn't be a sin, but at the very least one might wonder why Southern Baptists aren't sending more of the calories to people who don't have enough to eat. Even if gluttony isn't a sin, arguably eating more then you need while others go hungry could be.

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Comments
Claire(1)

I think alot of fundamentalist Christians (Especially Protestants)use food as a form of self-medication. Their lifestyle is very strict and over-eating may not seem so sinful at the church bake sale.

March 29, 2008 at 5:15 pm
Terri(2)

Obesity is the result of overeating and under-exercising (for the most part) According to biblical theology someone who has given themselves to God are putting their trust and well being in Him, thereby shunning all other forms of external and destructive ways to “feel good”. Of course as humans we are fallible and there are hundreds of reasons why as a nation “Under God” and especially for Christians there are plenty of us falling into the trap of “gluttony” But for us who are striving to become “living sacrifices” for our Lord overindulgence in anything becomes a form of idolotry as well as causes damage to our bodies which are the “temples” of the Living God. Creature comforts have made us sedentary, fake foods have been chemically treated to make them addictive, and due to living in a fallen world we are all carrying pain in some form or another. All these contribute to the obesity epidemic. I also have noticed the high incidence in the Christian communities of believers who are obese. I find it sad because as a Christian myself who loves Jesus more than anyone or anything I find it to be a poor witness to God’s Glory walking around in an uncared for body. I also know that hurting people are more apt to acknowledge the need for a Loving Savior. Having said that I would also like to acknowledge the fact that this country in particular has grown obese across the board and obesity related disease is skyrocketing. As a Christian I am confident that Jesus understands our pain, our struggles and will comfort and heal us if only we come to Him and ask. He is our salvation from sin in all forms. “Judge not lest ye be judged” and “Remove the board from your own eye then you can see well enough to help remove the speck from someone else’s eye” these are His words. He is Truth and Life. It was the outcasts, the lepers, the immoral and unloved who were and continue to be drawn to Him. He came to heal the sick and obesity falls into that criteria obviously.

September 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm
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