It seems that human beings are often our own worst enemies. In everything from war to aggressive driving to smoking, we fall prey to addictive choices.
If you question the placement of war in that last sentence, please go study history. I’ll still be here when you come back.
We can quit smoking, we can learn how to defuse road rage, we can try negotiation and diplomacy rather than bashing our enemies over the head. Our biggest enemy, though, just might be our palates, and our stomachs. In the US, this is particularly apparent in the Mississippi Delta, where the traditional diet of fried-everything with a heaping side of mac-and-cheese has led to a larger-than-average level of obesity.
The 2011 state-by-state obesity rankings put Mississippi at #1, with Alabama at #2. Their love of “traditional” foods is killing them, and the church has helped. There’s been a turning of the tide of pork-fat, though, in some cases led by the same churches that had been the doughnuts-and-fatback meccas in their communities.
In a NY Times piece last Sunday, the focus was on this new ministry-of-health approach that’s being led by a pastor who’s been tagged by the National Baptist Convention as the leader of a new health living outreach effort across the Baptist Church.
This is heartening news. I wonder, though, how successful any program can be when the temptation toward greasy/cheesy food exists on every corner, particularly the corners in the food-deserts across the US. Fresh food isn’t readily available, the only store in walking distance is a convenience store, and there’s a Mickey D’s or a fried chicken joint just down the road.
We’re Cro Magnons with smartphones. I hope that the Baptist preachers are successful in their quest for better health and longer lives for their flocks, but they’re up against some pretty heavy sledding: our hard-wiring toward what feels/tastes good. Changing minds – and taste-buds – might be a long slog.
It’s worth it, though. I applaud the effort.