There is a new report out by the Robert Woods Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health organization titled F as in Fat 2009 – How Obesity Policies in America are Failing. (Link provided is to the 108 page report.) A shorter Executive Summary is available here.
An MSNBC article provides insight into the report which indicates the the obesity epidemic in America is still worsening. In 31 states, more than one in four adults are obese according to the report. Obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year, and no state experienced a significant decline. It’s a national crisis that “calls for a national strategy to combat obesity,” suggests Robert Wood Johnson vice president Dr. James Marks.
“The combination of poor nutrition and not enough physical activity have contributed to two-thirds of adults becoming either obese or overweight and nearly 23 million children obese or overweight.” This is the leading sentence of the recommendations of the report. The recommendations continue to read as follows. “To improve the health of Americans and control health care costs, obesity prevention and control must become a national priority. The country’s health and well-being require that we take action. Obesity is one of the nation’s most overwhelming health problems, but up to now,policies to address it have been limited and under-resourced. As one of the nation’s most overwhelming health problems, combating obesity must be a central objective of health reform, and the country needs to develop a strategic approach to address obesity.”
The report also calls for a ‘National Strategy to Combat Obesity.’ It says “This strategy needs to be a comprehensive, realistic plan that involves every agency of the federal government,state and local governments, businesses, communities, schools, families, and individuals. It must outline clear roles and responsibilities and demand accountability. Our leaders should challenge the entire country to do their part to help improve our nation’s health.”
Each of the specific recommendations in the report for the various agencies to take have to deal with physical activity and nutrition. In a general sense, recommendations are made that employers and local organizations provide preventive wellness programs.
I contend that the initiatives that could make the greatest impact on the incidence of obesity in both children and adults in our country are God-related. More than advice and encouragement to eat better and move more and improved access to health care, people need a vibrant and strong personal relationship with their Creator – the God of the Bible.
The real root of so many illnesses and diseases we struggle with in our society are spiritual, not poor nutritional habits and inactivity as many would suggest is the case in obesity. Sure, being inactive and eating poorly are contributors. Yes, access to health care makes a big difference. But what about the faith factor? I suggest that it, or the absence of it, makes all the difference in the world.
Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His reply, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.
If we do not love God as He intends for us to, and love others and ourselves as He desires us to, then we’re going to have many problems in our lives. In the absence of these strong and meaningful relationships, some of us, many in fact according to this recent report, will develop belief systems, mindsets and associated lifestyle behaviors that are conducive to weight gain. It’s highly likely that these unhealthy factors may be due to broken and unhealed relationships with God, self or others. Think about it – God calls us to love him with our entire being. He calls us to be in loving relationships with others just as we love ourselves.
I’ll bet that if we researched this issue, we’d find a great proportion of those who are obese are not really well in their relationships with God, themselves or others. The unhealthy and long-term thinking patterns and associated toxic emotions of feeling unacceptable, worthless, unloved, guilty and anxious will set off a regular dripping of harmful chemicals(cortisol, etc.) in their bodies through the inner workings of the endocrine and limbic systems. If left unchecked a host of complicated immune-related diseases, diabetes and obesity included, may develop. I also think we’d find that there is a measurable and significant absence of health-related beliefs and practices outlined for us in the Bible.
What are we to do to turn around the obesity epidemic? Turn to God in a heart-felt and genuine way. Get to know Him. Develop a personal relationship with Him through His son, Jesus and by reading and following His guidebook for living. The Bible outlines all the advice we really need to be able to get a handle on this issue. All Americans need to do is read it and follow the guidelines that our Creator has given us within it.
Yes, we do warrant an F grade in the fight against obesity in America but there is an F that is missing in this Fat epidemic and it’s faith in God.
If we’re going to have an impact on this aspect of our health-care crisis in America, I’d recommend that those setting national policies to turn around obesity in adults and children and in health care reform include a very big dose of faith/God-based initiatives into their planning.