Is obesity a mortal sin?


I am currently 100 pounds overweight. I have already lost 41 pounds since my heaviest weight. I am dieting and exercising. However, I’m still concerned that it is a mortal sin to be obese. I am in RCIA, and plan to confess that I did not take care of my body by overeating. My fear is that if I were to die while being heavy, I could go to Hell.


Welcome home to the Church! :wave:

Just being overweight is not a sin of any kind. There are many reasons why a person can be overweight. Overeating is only one. Medications can make a person gain weight–I had that problem until my doctor put me on another one. The sin of gluttony is a mortal one, but like all mortal sins no one can accidentally commit it. First of all the sin must be mortal, you must know that is it mortal and you must commit it with full knowledge and full will. Most people who overeat do so as a habit, like chewing one’s fingernails. This takes behavioral correction, but it’s not a mortal sin. The fact that you are endeavoring to curb your eating and be healthy is evidence alone that you are not guilty of the sin of gluttony. Gluttony is overeating or overindulging when you know it’s wrong but you deliberately do it anyway regardless of the consequences. There are people who do that, I’m sure, but you don’t sound like one of them to me. :slight_smile:


If you’re dieting and exercising, I don’t see any kind of sin at all.

Simply neglecting to take care of yourself as well as you should might be a venial sin, but I can only imagine it being mortal if you were stubbornly resisting taking care of your body, and in spite of dire consequences.


This post will ignore obesity that is not your fault. Whatever that may mean. I don’t want to hear about it. So hopefully we don’t have to hear myriad excuses. I know some people have a thryroid problem or whatever. Sorry about having to post a disclaimer, but I have been around long enough to know when it is coming.

Technically, no, it isn’t. Obesity is the result of past actions. Now the actions that lead to obesity may very well be sinful, and whether they are venially or mortally so I guess would depend on the circumstances. I would assume that it would typically be venially sinful. It may have to do with how you got there. If you work 65 hours a week in an office chair it is hard not to become obese. You simply are too sedentary and it is difficult to eat little enough to not gain weight. If you lazy around the house and do nothing but stuff your face full of potato chips, it is easier to see how that would be sinful. Obesity that is slowly acquired would seem venial, but if you just start gluttonously packing it in, well that could be a mortal sin. Acquired habits tend to reduce culpability.

As long as you are losing weight and taking care of yourself I would say you are definitely doing nothing wrong, indeed, you are doing good. Keep it up!

When I say to judge your actions, I don’t mean individually, but cumulatively, over a period of time. For instance, you’re obese and losing weight and have a cupcake. Is that a sin? Of course not. What if you have 6? Probably still not. What if you have 6 a day for a week, or a month? Probably is sinful.


Exactly. If you were massively overeating and not exercising 100% of your own free will, knowing it was sinful (because it does your body harm, just like excessive drinking or even self-harm), then there would be an issue. But I can’t think of a time when someone has chosen to do so 100% of their own free will without some other psychological factors coming into play.

Don’t worry about it, especially given your awesome weight loss so far! :smiley:


Welcome Home and big congratulations on your hard work in losing weight.

Looking at myself and many in the congregation, there are quite a few of us with weight problems. I would suggest the sensible way ahead is to speak privately to your priest and explain your concerns. He will be able to give you sound spiritual guidance and reassurance.

May God bless you on both journey’s and remember, He loves you irrespective of body shape, size etc etc.

PS. Thank you for your post, I have a bit of thinking to do.


All sins are forgiven if you genuinely repent and promise the Lord to try to do better. Looks like you have already done that with respect to overeating. :thumbsup:


First off, welcome home and congrats on loosing the amount of weight that you already have! :thumbsup: Be proud of yourself for recognizing it and moving forward to correct it. Only you really know what drove you to that point, whether it was health/ medicine or simply not caring about yourself.

There are sins that can lead to this …Guttony and Sloth for example would need to be confessed. Obesity is the result of sins (or could be - again only you will know). To be repentant of that (or any sin) is to say to the Lord in confession …“Lord I’m sorry for my sin(s) of ____ and I know now that it is wrong and I’m not going to do that anymore. I promise to continue to change my life with your help and the power of your Holy Spirit. Please forgive me Lord I am a sinner.”

Please let us all know how things are going for you as you go along. Peace of the Lord be with you!


Generally, gluttony is a venial sin.


Thanks everyone!


The mortal sin is gluttony (ryanblack gluttony is one of the seven capital sins so it is not just a venial sin). But in your post you mention you are doing exercise and dieting. So I don’t think you are committing a mortal sin. It doesn’t seem you are over indulging yourself quite the opposite, and it looks like you are working on being healthy so that is OK.


It is objectively a mortal sin, but a person’ individual circumstances may mitigate it down to venial in culpability or even no fault to them if they do not meet the criteria of culpability for committing a mortal sin. :slight_smile:


No, it’s not objectively mortal sin.


Yes, it is a capital sin, but capital sin does not necessarily equate to mortal sin.


Do a simple online search of the seven deadly sins. It’s listed among them.


Capital sin does not necessarily equate to mortal sin.


“Gluttony is in general a venial sin in so far forth as it is an undue indulgence in a thing which is in itself neither good nor bad.”

From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on gluttony.


It is best, I think, not to cherry pick sentences that seem to support a position but rather go farther to see the whole thought being expressed. When we read farther we come quickly on this:

Of course it is obvious that a different estimate would have to be given of one so wedded to the pleasures of the table as to absolutely and without qualification live merely to eat and drink, so minded as to be of the number of those, described by the Apostle St. Paul, “whose god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19). Such a one would be guilty of mortal sin. Likewise a person who, by excesses in eating and drinking, would have greatly impaired his health, or unfitted himself for duties for the performance of which he has a grave obligation, would be justly chargeable with mortal sin.

The sentence you cited says just what I mentioned–that circumstances may mitigate one’s culpability for “in general” most people do not intend to commit a mortal sin when overindulging, but a deliberate intention to do so and a life dedicated to doing so does rise to that of mortal sin.


Gluttony is not a mortal sin. What the article describes in those instances in which gluttony rises to the level of mortal sin is essentially the sin of idolatry, or the sin of abuse of one’s body. I don’t think that you will find any Catholic source that says “murder is in general a venial sin,” or “adultery is in general a venial sin,” etc.


Sorry, just because it is not as heinous as murder or adultery doesn’t reduce it’s standing as a mortal sin. If committing it knowingly and willing rises to the level of mortal sin, then it is a mortal sin to do so. The same thing with sexual self-abuse. The habit of doing it may mitigate a person’s culpability, but it’s still a mortal sin. Even murder and adultery are less egregious if done out of passion rather than cold-blooded calculation. Still, they are mortal sins, as well.

At any rate, the OP is hardly committing a mortal sin and probably never rose to that level. Still, it would be best for her to talk to her confessor about it, to relieve any unnecessary concerns she may have.

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