Turns out that some questions are quite stupid after all, or at least highly uninformed. “Why are Mormons so exceptionally fat?” is the common and uninformed question that Daniel Peterson takes on in his highly informed blog at Patheos. It’s a question worth attention because it is raised fairly often by those who look down on Utah and Mormonism.
Yes, obesity is a problem in Utah and a genuine health problem for many Mormons, but not quite as big of a problem as it elsewhere. In the 2011 State-by-State Obesity Rankings, Utah is #47. To me, it looks like the top 20 most obese states are dominated by the Bible belt, where some feel that anti-Mormon influence is the weightiest. I suppose there’s another impolite and still rather silly question there that could be asked in return, but I won’t ask it here.
This would be a good time, though, to remind people to be less judgmental about obesity. Some people use great restraint in eating and still struggle to take off weight while others pig out on unhealthy food and manage to stay relatively slim for a long time. For many people, their genes plus their environment and diet in early life can greatly influence obesity later. But even if all obesity were directly a result of an adult’s poor choices, being judgmental and unkind is inappropriate. It’s such a superficial thing, but sometimes it’s hard for people to look past the dimensions of the body to appreciate the deeper dimensions of the soul.
4 thoughts on “Utah’s Obesity Problem: Not Quite What You’ve Heard”
You make a very valid point, Jeff. I think it is too easy for people to 'judge' others on external factors… Sadly, we all have challenges in life, but for some it is easier to 'hide' their challenges from the world than it is for others… If anything, since we can visibly see a challenge in someone else, rather than judging them harshly, we should feel more inclined to strengthen that person and build them up. My two cents…
True point Tamara. I remember sitting in a lesson where the instructor told of a man who came into sacrament meeting smelling of smoke. Who wants to sit by a guy reeking of cigarettes? The thought provoking point was "who would want to sit by me if my particular vices also carried a foul odor?"
You might want to read this article. It seems that the bible belt is not more obese just more honest, perhaps that is also true in UT.
Even judging by external factors, Utah is nowhere near the most obese states. Factually and anecdotally the Midwest through the southern states are by far the fattest. These states also have the most video porn shops, the most buffet restaurants and the most fried foods. And lousy, humid weather half the year.