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The connection between obesity and church

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“I heard that there is a correlation between church attendance and obesity.  If this is true, what should we do about it?” — Larry

Sure enough, it’s true! A study presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association revealed that young adults who frequently attend religious activities are more likely to become obese than those who don’t.  Presumably this is due to the fact that religious gatherings traditionally include “comfort foods” that are high in fat and calories.
We cannot easily dismiss the fact that food is an important part of many stories in the Bible.  Killing fatted calves, inviting strangers in for a meal—this was a way of showing hospitality as well as encouraging fellowship (see also Acts 2:46; 20:11).  Jesus fed thousands of people at a time (Mt. 14:15-21; 15:32-39).  
He ate with “sinners” (Lk. 15:2). Meals with His disciples occurred at important moments in their journey together (Mt. 26:26ff; Lk. 24:28ff; Jn. 21:12ff).
Eating together is a natural means for getting acquainted and developing bonds of friendship—not to mention the sharing of great recipes.
Face it, there will always be some sort of food at religious get-togethers: every church tradition has its favorite foods, feast days and celebrations and most likely a “snack culture.”  
That said, there is also good reason for practicing wisdom and restraint.  Daniel provides a good example of eschewing rich foods for vegetables (Dan. 1: 5-16).  
Promoting health and well-being by refraining from empty calories would be consistent with biblical teachings (Mt. 6:25; Lk. 12:19; Jn. 6:26ff; I Cor. 3:16-17; 6:12ff).
But we don’t want to get crazy about this.  After all, chocolate chip cookies at Vacation Bible School are a staple, ice cream socials in the summer are not debatable and the occasional fried chicken is just good for the soul.  
So, go to church regularly  ...  and then exercise religiously.