Are you eating nutritional food?

The pastor and health

Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.


It is never too late to alter eating habits and implement a healthy diet. Diet and physical activity go hand in hand. Healthy eating helps you look good, feel great, gain energy, stay in shape, promote quality of life, and minister effectively to your congregations.

With fast food industries, instant meals, and a fast-paced world, obesity has become a hot topic. Currently, 1.6 billion overweight adults live in the world, according to the World Health Organization. That number is projected to grow by 40 percent over the next ten years.1

The top ten countries, with the highest percentage of overweight adults aged 15 and over, follow:





Miconesia, Federated States of



Cook Islands


















United States





In the United States, the most recent analysis from the Framingham Heart Study shows that a 30-year-old has a 92 percent (male) or 74 percent (female) chance of becoming overweight3 at some point in their life. The risk of becoming obese,4 at the same age, is 48 percent for men and 39 percent for women. This study included 4,117 Caucasian men and women followed between 1971 and 2001.5 Obesity currently reduces life by an average of four to nine months. The steep increase in obesity rates is expected to reduce life expectancy even more severely over the next 50 years, possibly shortening life as much as two to five years.6

Adding on extra pounds has an effect on health care spending and puts a toll on employers. Obesity-related illnesses have been responsible for a tenfold increase in private health insurance spending since 1987. It is estimated that treating an obese individual in 2002 costs $1,244 more than treating a healthyweight individual. In 1987, the cost difference was $272. It is predicted that as the obesity epidemic continues, these sky-rocketing costs will soar even higher.7

With these staggering statistics it is essential to make smart food choices for your health every single day. Here are some tips to get started:

Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast can help regulate weight control. Studies consistently show an inverse relationship between body mass index (BMI) and breakfast consumption across all age, race, gender, socioeconomic, and lifestyle groups. Individuals who eat breakfast tend to have lower BMIs than individuals who skip breakfast. Those who eat cereal/whole grains for breakfast tend to have lower BMIs than breakfast skippers OR meat and egg eaters.

Include 5–9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. This is not as hard as it seems. One medium-size fruit, ½ cup of raw, cooked, or frozen fruit or vegetables equals one serving. Choose all the colors of the rainbow because variety becomes key. Add vegetables to soups; toss dried fruit in salads; have fun and make a fruit smoothie with your favorite fruits.

Reduce sodium. The daily recommended amount of salt is 2,400 mg/day (this equals about one teaspoon of salt). Especially be aware of the amount of salt in packaged food items.

Increase whole grains. Read your labels and watch for 100% whole grain, such as wheat, corn, etc.

Limit sweets. Eat sweets in moderation, but do not deprive yourself because this may lead to overeating.

Watch your portion sizes. Portion sizes have dramatically increased during the past 20 years. Be more aware of your portion size. At a restaurant, ask for a box to go right away and divide your meal or split the meal with someone. When eating in, serve the food on individual plates instead of serving dishes.

Drink more water. Drink six to eight cups of water per day.

Daily physical activity. Thirty minutes of exercise helps you avoid being sedentary, and 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity prevents weight gain.

Be aware of the decisions you make as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store, local market, or when you are perusing the menu at a local restaurant. Eat a wide variety of nutritious and colorful foods and control how much you eat. Education starts in the home—so choose wisely.



2 Ibid.

3 The World Health Organization ( calculates “overweight” as a body mass index (BMI—a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters-kg/m2) greater than or equal to 25.

4 The World Health Organization ( calculates “obese” as a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

5 Vasan, Annals of Internal Medicine, October 4, 2005.

6 New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2005.

7 Health Affairs, June 6, 2005.

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Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

May 2011

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