‘Less’ is a four letter word …


I paused with my first biscuit of the morning half way to my mouth.

Some early morning news items are just altogether TOO disturbing … aren’t they?

Matt Mc Grath, science reporter for the BBC had fed information to the Today programme on Radio 4 – no doubt on licence payers’ money – that was being used  to churn my delicate morning stomach.

I fairness, it wasn’t entirely his fault. He was just passing  on research published in the journal BMC Public Health.

In their report, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have calculate the weight of the global (adult) population at 287 million tonnes.

They estimate that 15 million tonnes of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tonnes due to obesity.

It will, of course, be of no comfort to our transatlantic cousins that having estimated the total weight of people on the planet the team found that North America had the highest average. Although only 6% of the global population live there, it is responsible for more than a third of the obesity.

Using World Health Organization data from 2005, the scientists worked out that the average global body weight was 62kg (137lb). But there were huge regional differences. In North America, the average was 80.7kg (178lb), while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb) .

The implications of this for human health … as well as those for resource management and availability … are evident. What will happen in terms of food supply as increasing prosperity in developing countries impacts diet and the food supply chain?

Food supply pressure, planetary limits and the problem with saying ‘No!’ to yourself

Prof. Ian Roberts (one of the report’s authors) told BBC news: “”If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass. … We often point the finger at poor women in Africa having too many babies,” says Prof Roberts. “But we’ve also got to think of this fatness thing; it’s part of the same issue of exceeding our planetary limits.”

The environmental implications are obvious. Food production can be an intensely carbon intensive business, and the impact of increased food demand on anthropogenic global warming seems likely to become more of an issue

Clearly it is in all our interests to learn how to say ‘no’ to ourselves and our dietary desires and learn to live on just a little less.

And let’s  face it, my most long lived farmer friends tend to be the smaller more wirey men … and not those who have to expend energy hauling greater bulk!

The bottom line is that this is a matter of the first law of thermodynamics, and the law on the conservation of energy … ‘energy in = energy out + energy stored’. (THINK about it!)

The answer is to be content to eat less and to be disciplined enough to resist eating more food than we need … and that is GOOD for us.

So why do human beings, knowing these things, find it quite so very difficult to say ‘no’ to themselves?

The Apostle’s finger …

The Apostle Paul put his finger on it years ago, identifying something deeply rooted in fallen human nature as the source of our inability to say ‘no’ to ourselves … as the biscuit stands poised between the packet and our lips:

“I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

If the Son sets you free …

And the Lord Himself comes up with the outright resolution of the matter in John 8:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’

34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”