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Epidemic of obesity or epidemic of low self esteem?

Las Vegas Storefront © D.P. Clarke
Las Vegas Storefront © D.P. Clarke
Las Vegas Storefront © D.P. Clarke

As a result of an overweight populace, ads for fat-burning supplements are rife and weight loss programs abound. Obesity has been identified as an epidemic. An epidemic is defined as a circumstance that suddenly becomes widespread.

If one examines the underlying causes of said epidemic, the blame is often placed on super-sized portions, excessive consumption of junk food, and a sedentary lifestyle devoid of exercise. All good reasons, in fact, that could explain the situation. Those who have managed to maintain an ideal body weight may think those who carry a few extra pounds simply need to exercise some self control. It’s only a matter of pushing away from the table or joining a gym, isn’t it? Or is it?

Another undeniable fact is that certain foods just taste good, and eating them makes one feel good. And it is the feel good factor of eating which may reveal a hidden reason for the epidemic, the need to feel good about oneself. There are many reasons why one may not. A recent column in Charisma magazine stated, “Many people lack the confidence to reach out and make friends because they don’t think they deserve to be loved. Self-hatred can be caused by abuse, lack of parental affection, bullying or other factors.”

And evidence that the world contributes to low self-esteem came to light in a surprising way. A song came out this summer which celebrates being curvaceous. Five million YouTube hits later the singer said, “Girls sent me essays about how they hated themselves because of their bodies and the way people were treating them. … They said they heard my song and said, ‘Forget it, I’m just going to love myself.’”

When one comes to God, they often bring with them a lifetime of bad feelings. But believers can’t escape to drugs, sex or alcohol. Food can become the feel good drug of choice. When confronted with stressful life situations, it’s easy to find comfort in food.

Lord Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God. The second was to love your neighbor as yourself. He knew that loving oneself is vital. It is through accepting Gods love and beginning to love oneself, that the cycle of low self-esteem can be broken. Believe what He says about you, not the world. Learn how to deal with life His way by refusing to compare yourself to anyone, being content with what you have, and even being a blessing to others.

Self-help books also abound, and analyst’s couches fill up with those seeking assistance to break the cycle of self-hatred. Thus it behooves leaders in the body of Christ to encourage believers that they are more precious than gold to their heavenly Father. And that nothing in the world can harm them if they will develop a healthy relationship with Him. He is there to comfort them in times of trouble. He is able to replace the desire to seek comfort in feel-good food with His loving support.