Losing to Live and the Daniel Plan join a host of faith-based wellness programs launched within the past decade: Firm Believer, Bod4God, WholyFit, Body Temple Wellness, and Body Gospel, to name a few. Faith-based diet and nutrition books, all claiming to shrink believers' waistlines while expanding their faith, continue to make the bestseller lists. Local churches are building gyms and beginning neighborhood health ministries. Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, opened an exercise facility in 2006 with 200 members. Now its church-run BX (Brainerd Crossroads) Center has grown to 54,000 square feet and 3,000 members.
The Christian wellness trend has unfolded amid national debates about health care, childhood obesity, government-banned large sugary drinks, and who or what is to blame in a country where about 1 of every 3 adults (35.7 percent) is clinically obese. By 2030, nearly 1 out of 2 are expected to be obese, according to a 2012 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. But it's not an entirely new interest for the body of Christ. The YMCA, founded in 1844, was dedicated to the development of the whole person, "body, mind, and spirit," and Christian diet books go back at least to Charlie Shedd's 1957 bestseller Pray Your Weight Away, which taught that "if our bodies really are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, we had best get them down to the size God intended."