by Rev. Jim Person

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 The Message)

“About 20% of people who have overweight [and attend church] are successful at losing weight and keeping it off.”

Wouldn’t it be great if, with a clear conscience, we could make a statement like the one above?  After all, it seems that nearly every marketing campaign these days includes some promise, or at least suggestion, of weight loss.  One of my favorites is for one of the many prescription drugs now being advertised to the general public.  It states, “[This] is not a weight loss drug, but people taking [this drug] lost an average of 12 pounds.”

We might be able to rationalize the suggestion of a connection between church attendance and weight loss by citing a study published in July 2005 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which states, “About 20% of people who have overweight are successful at losing weight and keeping it off.”  Since we are told that the church is a microcosm of society, it stands to reason that the same statistic would be true for churchgoers!

Of course, we would have to include the fine print *Disclaimer that * This statement has not been verified by anyone at all.

Why has society become so enamored with weight loss while at the same time we continue to have what experts describe as an “obesity epidemic”?  While healthy weight is one component of health and wellness, it is not the be-all and end-all of a healthy life.  The advice of your doctor and other healthcare professionals should be considered more important than magazine images, fashion trends or marketing campaigns.

How do you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually?  What do the most important biomarkers of your health look like?  Blood pressure? Cholesterol?  Triglycerides?  All the other indicators that only your doctor can monitor, regardless of the number on the scale?

I recently heard a comment by the host of a wellness podcast that we should be healthy and fit enough that “the things that matter to you are able to happen.”  I think this might be a better barometer of our well-being than pounds and ounces.  Obsessing about weight loss should not hinder my enjoyment of time spent with my grandsons.  Worry about fitting into a certain size dress or suit should not negate one’s joy over being invited to a friend’s wedding.

Twenty percent of people with overweight may be successful at weight loss, but that doesn’t mean the other 80% should be outcast, shamed, or rejected.  Be who you are the way you are, as long as you are physically, emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.

But then again, maybe we could find a study that connects the amount in your church envelope to how quickly you can lower that pesky Body Mass Index!?!?