Numbers don’t lie

Last Friday night, I found myself both appalled and inspired as I watched two hours of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” If you’re not familiar with the show, check out this link:

One of the most shocking parts of the show was when Jamie visited a local family and collected all the food they ate for a week. Their diet consisted of fried donuts for breakfast, pizza for snacks, hot dogs and a whole bunch of other processed junk-type food. As I watched, I swelled with pride. At least I don’t feed my family that, I thought. We don’t always eat the best stuff, but we at least cook from scratch as much as we can and eat fruits and vegetables.

Fast forward to today. I was reading about childhood obesity in my most recent Parenting magazine. The article provided a Web address for a BMI (body mass index) calculator on the CDC site ( Our 2-year-old daughter had just been to the doctor, so I thought I’d check it out.

According to the CDC, she’s obese. Obese??? And so are the rest of us. Now, I know that none of us are at our ideal weight points, but “obese” isn’t the word I’d use to describe us. “Obese” is reserved for “The Biggest Loser” types, right?

One of the aspects of “Food Revolution” that surprised me was the unwillingness of the people to listen to what Oliver had to say. Watching from the outside, it was easy to see that what he said had merit. But less than a week after judging their attitudes, I found myself in the same state: denial. As if I don’t have enough parenting worries, now I have the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I might be killing my children.

The validity of BMI as a diagnostic tool  seems to be in question. Perhaps it’s better as a guideline than a rule. For me, at least, it was a wake-up call. Spring is here, and even though it’s a chore to get three people — me, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old — ready to go outside, we need to make the effort because we need the exercise.

And, it was another opportunity for God to show me an area where I could be more humble. As I thought about my reaction to the family on the TV show, this story from Scripture came to mind:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV)

Obese or not, I need to remember that I’m no better than anyone else, and all of us need God’s mercy.


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