Christian diet programs have existed since the early 1970s, but a growing body of evangelical weight control literature has shifted the focus from viewing weight gain as sin to taking a more medical-oriented approach, writes R. Marie Griffith in the Christian Century (May 7).
Christian and Bible-based diet programs and literature have been among the most popular items in the evangelical Christian marketplace. Griffith notes that the evangelical concern with weight and dieting has focused on the sin of gluttony as the cause of being overweight and has sought to encourage secular ideals of beauty. At the same time, more “high-brow” Christian critics derided such efforts as being of questionable taste and importance.
The more recent literature by such authors as Gwen Shamblin makes more references to “scientific authority” rather than relying on inspirational testimonials. The stress is not so much on “fat” but on the problem of excessive overeating. “At the same time, increasingly thoughtful attention has begun to be paid to syndromes like anorexia and bulimia,” and the pressure on women in modern America to look perfect, Griffith adds.
Such fast-growing programs as First Place and Weigh Down Workshop particularly reflect such changes. First Place has programs in nearly 5,000 churches, while Weigh Down Workshop, the largest such program, is now offered in as many as 10,000 churches in the U.S. and elsewhere.
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