“Overweight and Obesity: An Epidemic in the Making”
There is an epidemic of overweight and obesity in the United States. You are probably familiar with the latest statistics which show that greater than 70% of the adult population is overweight or obese. In addition, the number of children who are overweight or obese has tripled in the last 20 years. These are staggering figures that we should not take lightly – especially with regard to the fact that the Bible implores us to remember that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). As Christians, we must be aware of this epidemic and seek to slow the rising tide of overweight and obesity. Additionally, we need to be aware that a poor diet and lack of appropriate amounts of physical activity cause an estimated 300,000 deaths per year – trailing only tobacco as a preventable cause of death (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
So what is obesity? Obesity is a clinical term that is used to classify an individual that has an excess amount of body fat (typically someone more than 30 lbs. over their ideal weight). Current science uses the body mass index (BMI) to determine and classify individuals who may be at risk for diseases related to being overweight and obese. BMI is a formula that uses your height and weight to give you a score that helps to determine if you are overweight or not. The formula is: weight (in pounds) / height (in inches) x 703. A 160 lb. person who is 5’ 9” tall has a BMI of 23.6 (160/69 x 703 = 23.6). The box below outlines the different BMI classifications:
|40 and above||Morbidly obese|
The classifications above simply provide health care professionals with a guide to determining an individuals’ risk for certain diseases. BMI is not perfect and there are always exceptions to the above classifications; however, the vast majority of Americans that use the BMI scale will find that the classification is accurate.
So what has caused us to become so overweight and obese? There are multiple causes to the problem of obesity, but, typically, it is caused by an individual taking in more calories than they use up in a day. Genetics, the social environment, and the physical environment are the primary causes of this accumulation of calories; however, science is still not clear about the exact relationships between these factors. Certain hormones in the body that regulate the appetite may be involved. In addition, the easy access to high-energy, inexpensive foods, and the lack of a need for physical activity in our environment all combine to exacerbate the problem of obesity.
The most common ways to address the problem of obesity are to reduce the number of calories you are consuming and begin a regular program of physical activity. (Next month’s article will outline a specific strategy for setting up a habitual program of exercise.)
As noted in the first article in this series, the Bible is full of descriptions of the relationship between our physical bodies and the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 is clear in stating that our bodies are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in this temple. Verse 17 states, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him: for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” In addition, Romans 12:1 implores us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” Thus, it is evident that as individuals and as a society, we have a responsibility to serve God through taking care of our physical bodies.
So, the question is: Are you taking care of, or destroying, God’s temple? Remember, your body belongs to the Lord!
Charles D. Sands, PhD, MEd
Dean, College of Allied Health
Professor, Health Science