This advice spreads more easily these days with the growth of social media. After all, Katy Perry – promoter of vitamin supplements – has 80 million Twitter followers; that’s 77 million more than the World Health Organization!
Studies consistently show that celebrity culture can influence extreme health-related behaviour – such as excessive screening and testing. And celebrity body shapes, often Photo-shopped, influence how we want to appear – unrealistic portrayals that give rise to unhealthy eating habits and/or elective cosmetic surgery.
If we give pause to the celebrity hype, we see it is not all reasonable. But research suggests there is an underlying rationale as to why we follow health and lifestyle advice from celebrities that have no scientific expertise in these fields.
“It makes sense to follow a model’s advice on fashion or an actor’s advice on presentation,” says Steven Hoffman, assistant professor at the McMaster school of medicine, “but celebrity status causes a “halo effect” that gives a cloak of trustworthiness which extends well beyond [the celebrities’] industry expertise.”
Canadian researcher, Alan Cassels, author of Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease, suggests we shouldn’t be too dazzled by “celebrity magnetism.” He also expresses concern that reacting to certain endorsements can be both financially costly and physically harmful.
Yet, in our sincere desire to obtain good health advice, we look for guidance that comes from expertise and with evidence that underpins the health care claim.
Jesus was considered a celebrity for his day. People talked about him; crowds followed him wherever he went; and, they listened to his every word. What drew them from miles around to see and hear this itinerant preacher? Well, the effectiveness of his divinely scientific health advice was in his healing works – from chronic to incurable, nothing was impossible to heal!
What health advice did Jesus endorse that resulted in such healing? It was advice he had gleaned from his own experience in understanding man’s relationship to a loving Creator, God, and how that love is expressed to others.
Here are a few points from one of his most salient sermons centuries ago:
• Forgive others and you will be forgiven: today, health studies recommend forgiving those who have wronged you – it leads to a healthier heart and lower stress levels
• Be less concerned with getting than with giving: today, research shows that giving to others increases health benefits in people with chronic illness
• Treat others as you would like to be treated: today, this Golden Rule is still touted as a hallmark of a healthy, moral society
Jesus also stated that we had a similar relationship with our divine Creator as he did when he promised that we could do the same healing by following these guidelines to health. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12 NLT)
His teachings are relevant today because they help us understand how to accept God’s power and guidance in our lives. As he proved, the acknowledgment of our relationship as a beloved child of a loving Creator, God, ensures all our health needs are well met.
Health advice worthy of endorsement and offered by an expert in his field!
This article is published throughout Ontario in Metroland Media sites such as Durham Region news.