Overeating, obesity, etc

I saw a thread in the family section recently, intended to reply, and didn’t. I was wondering, from a moral perspective, is overeating an actual sin, if it is consistent enough to make the person obese, or severly overweight?

I’ve noticed this is a sensitive issue, but after reading the other thread, I got to thinking, about how it seems that other issues relating to the body are openly discussed, but weight is not. I’d be interested in reading what others think about this.

My own opinion is that overeating, done on a consistent basis, is a sin, because it is damaging to the body, and it allows for a continual lack of self-discipline, at least in this one area of life, that is damaging to our overall state. It also indicates a misunderstanding, or at least an unwillingness in the person to recognize that what we do with our bodies affects the entire person.

(I don’t mean to imply that obese persons are any more sinful than others, so please don’t misunderstand, we all have our particular crosses and temptations.)

What do you think? Sinful? Not? Thanks.:slight_smile:

Most people today, can’t recognize overeating.

They have no logical standard to guide then in food portions, food types and how much food to consume in a day.

We eat according to preceived hunger (which is a highly inaccurate measurement device).

Being overweight in the U.S. is a well accepted sin (disordered appetite).

That’s a good point, I wonder how much our percieved hunger, and constant barrage of advertising designed to encourage “treating yourself” alters the culpability?

And being trained to “eat everything on your plate” then being given a HUGE plate of food…:shrug:

“Drive through food” is a constant temptation for people where it’s available. Normally, very high in sugary carbs, high fat and salt. People don’t even see it as a temptation, it’s just quick, easy, energy.

In the movie “Super Size Me”, a dietician said that a person should limit their visits to fast food places, to once a month. :eek:

To be fair, there are quite a few selections at McDonalds that Weight Watchers supports. But, most people have such disordered appetites, they won’t consistently select those good foods. (I know cuz I battle that all the time - drive up there smelling french fries and burgers and then work through the temptation to not select a large salad with grilled chicken.)

Unlike some other sins rampant today, overeating does not involve something that can simply be given up cold turkey. Pornography, nonmarital sex, tax evasion, slander, and the like, are not essential to maintaining human life. Eating is. Additionally, eating is burdened with many complex psychological issues for many people that make a simple decision to eat temperately very difficult. Finally, where is the line between eating virtuously and eating sinfully? It’s certainly not as clearly marked as it is for the sins involving actions that are evil in themselves.


I believe that overeating is a sin and yes…I am an overeater and morbidly obese. It is something I stuggle with on a daily basis. The bible says gluttony is a sin and it is in the same passages as drunkeness…Proverbs 23:1-3 and 23:21. Philipians 3:19, Matthew 12:19. I think these are just a few. There is much more on the matter.

Overeating (and overdrinking, for that matter) is a sin. It’s called gluttony.

Overeating is the sin of gluttony.

But do you think people who focus on unhealthy eating and obesity as dirty, sinful behavior are more likely or less likely to develop an eating disorder?

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
Overeating is not a sin. It is sometimes stupid,but that has never been consider a valid sin as far as I know. Yes,it is harmful to your body,but so is smoking,drinking,driving a car,flying,playing football,just about everything is harmfull and will cause lab-rats to get cancer. I am not telling people to eat to much,but I see no sin in it. But,what is a sin is not accepting people as they are,a fat believer is as good as a thin one,why wonder over things like this. I know a whole lot of moore importen issues then how much we eat.

Actually, I disagree with the statement that we eat according to perceived hunger (which is a highly inaccurate measurement device.

I disagree, because in my experience, the KEY to weight loss is to get to know your body’s true hunger signals and to follow them AND to learn to know when you’ve had enough so you STOP EATING whether there is still food in front of you or not, which is the more difficult of things to learn. No measuring of portions. No fat-free tasteless yuchy foods … (unless there are other medical reasons).

These are the KEYS. I lost 30 pounds without dieting just following my body’s natural signals. It took a bit of trial and error at first because I was so out of touch with my own body. But after a few weeks, I started to figure some things out, and the weight began to just melt away. I use only whole milk products - love chocolate cake - - - doesn’t matter. I can eat and have my cake too …

Is overeating a sin? Don’t we all overeat sometimes? I think overeating has potential to become sin under some circumstances, but I wouldn’t rush in to say that every person who is overweight is committing sin each time they eat a potato chip - or two - or …


What a timely post. I have searched my soul deeply on this issue because I am obese. I for one accept that obesity is the sin of gluttony and I have recognized it as Mortal sin.
And so I learned to pray that my soul may have strength to practice the virtue of Temperance.

From the perspective on one struggling, I can’t tell you how strange it feels confessing ‘sloth’ and ‘gluttony’ on a repeated basis, lol :o It is very embarrassing and I feel like the only person on earth using these ‘terms’ in the confessional since the the time of Henry the VIII but I think it is necessary to do over and over again until I finally choose to let God get it right :slight_smile:

I have sometimes wondered if this is a condition of repeated Mortal sin which should prohibit me from partaking in Communion. On the other hand I would feel my battle is lost without the grace of Christ in the Eucharist. So for me it is a matter of, “Yes I am sick Lord, please forgive me from touching your robe, but I believe in your power” so so speak

I am now seeing a nutritionist and dieting, but I have had a weight problem all my life. I don’t know if the eating disorder element of obesity is a excuse, but I would love to hear what a great spiritual director has to say on this matter.

Yes it can certainly be a sin.

The virtue we are to live is “Temperance” …moderation.

Which can vary according to person…and in deed occasion (Say on a feast…what is reasonable is going to be more than on other days often)

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart."72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites."73 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."74

It can also be called Intemperance…(contrary to temperance)

Or gluttony


Overeating…intemperance is ordinarily a “venial matter” for venial sin. Make sure you are not considering what is venial to be mortal…not to say one should not live temperance…but one should certainly not count a venial sin for mortal (yes mortal sin would keep you from communion…but then again overeating or gluttony in the ordinary form is usually a venial sin not a mortal sin…(though getting drunk where one looses ones reason is mortal for example)

as to obesity…it can be also influenced by genes…different persons are well different.

I would encourage you to talk with your confessor and not scruple on this. But seek to grow in the virtue of temperance…

Well, I agree that gluttony is a sin, I don’t agree that overeating is always equivalent to gluttony. Some people honestly don’t realize that they’re eating too much, or that the food they’re eating is so high in calories (for example, I looked up some fast food nutrition facts once and was surprised that usually, the fries in a “value meal” have more calories than the “main course”). This is especially true when it comes to snacks and drinks. There’s also the fact that low-income people tend to be more overweight, since unhealthy food tends to be cheaper than healthy food (anyone been to Whole Foods lately, vs Aldi?). There are also poor urban neighborhoods where healthy food just isn’t available, though fast food is, and people don’t have access to transportation to get to, say, a farmer’s market. I think all these factors certainly can mitigate someone’s culpability.

And overeating is not the only reason people become obese. Many women have trouble losing weight after pregnancy. There are diseases and medications that can result in obesity, and it’s not always easy to cure the disease or get off the medications…for example, many psychiatric meds make people obese, raise their cholesterol, etc., but if the meds are keeping the patient from becoming suicidal, then I think being obese and alive and is better than being thin and dead.

So, I don’t think that overeating and obesity is a sin in itself, and also, there are people who have high metabolism, or are very active, and can overeat without gaining weight. That doesn’t mean they can’t be guilty of gluttony.

Overeating…that is eating beyond reason and moderation…yes can be sinful. And yes that can be the very definition of gluttony…but one need not use this term. The term I use for the sin is “intemperance”.

As to the question of did everyone who is obese or even greatly obese…sin getting there…while there will be I am sure times of sin of intemperance …as prob. everyone has…many can be “obese” largely due to genetic etc factors.

Think St. Thomas Aquinas! They had to cut a section out of the table for him to sit there…(so they say) …he was a big guy. But he was a great lover of temperance.

Being fat does not = being a glutton or over-eater necessarily.

True in a way but the chances aren’t good that we’ve had a sudden outbreak of bad genetics in the past decade. If you’re obese the odds are very good that it is because of overeating combined with a sedentary lifestyle.

yes this is true too…and bad food.

(but one WILL find "chubby babies…becoming Chubby kids…chubby grownups…)

Nope, you are not…I confess it, too. FYI-I’ve seen many skinny people who I thought were guilty of gluttony, too.

I’m not certain where the Church draws the line between gluttony and overeating…but if I have made myself sick by eating too much, then I tend to think that is gluttony.

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