Before you deem that question even remotely blasphemous, consider a study that was done by Northwestern University last year. The study tracked 2,433 participants, 41 percent of which were African American, for 18 years, only to find that those who attended one religious event weekly was more at risk for becoming obese.

Over at Urban Faith, author Will LaVeist cites his brother Thomas, who is both a professor and the Director at the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. Thomas noted that Church culture often predicates a community where socializing begins and ends with food.

“Black church culture is out of alignment with some biblical teachings, particularly when it comes to how we eat. Church culture has got us drinking Kool-Aid, eating white bread, fried chicken, large servings of macaroni and cheese and collard greens drenched with salty hog maws (foods that are high in sugar, salt, calories, and carbohydrates that trigger health problems). We’re eating this in the church basement at dinner and at church conventions! Meanwhile, the Bible teaches against gluttony.”

Although it seems unfitting that the black Church should be directly held responsible for some of the health ails of the black community, as one of the staples in many of our neighborhoods, shouldn’t they at least aid in sending messages that healthy living includes both spiritual and physical well-being?

Some churches have began seeking out ways to do just that.

You may remember Rev. Michael O’ Minor, pastor of Oak Hill Baptist in Mississippi and one of the subjects of a conversation sparked by a New York Times article on healthy diet in churches. Pastor Minor was on a path to get his members to rally behind healthy eating. So much so that he banned fried foods, began to boil greens “with turkey necks instead of hamhocks,” and replaced sweet teas and soft drinks with bottled water. Minor also instated a track where he began having organized walks.

African Americans have the highest rate of obesity among all other groups.

What do you think? Is the Black Church Culture partially to blame for obesity in the black community? Is it time for more Churches to take action?


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  1. I just want to point out that what you eat has nothing to do with gluttony. Gluttony is doing anything in access, therefore, taking your focus off God. Now, if you’re eating too much that’s another story…But I don’t necessarily think that the black church has much to do with obesity in the black community. Even if you ate fried chicken, macaroni, and collard greens with pork after church every Sunday, that’s still just one day out of the week. And don’t most people have “cheat days” or go by the 80/20 rule? Now, the other six days of the week are up to you, not the church. You can’t blame the church if you don’t eat right or exercise Monday through Friday.

    • @Cassie: While I agree with you that one day doesn’t make the difference, I think honestly it has more to do with what churches are srving on Sundays, IF they are serving on Sundays. But to say they church doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with black obesity is ridiculous.

  2. The people who are cooking in the churches are the same people who cook in their homes. If they don’t practice preparing foods that are healthy at home, they certainly won’t prepare healthy foods at church. If a church is conscious about healthy eating, have cooks that are trained in healthy cooking to prepare meals.

    • @laura: I totally agree with your comment that is begins at home! People who cook at church are doing what they know- from home! However, I don’t know many churches back home or in my current city that have Sunday dinners that often. They have it for the church anniversary (1x a year), maybe for a special occasion but I cannot say the black church is responsible for obesity in Blacks. However, I feel that because the black church has the ear of its members, they should promote healthy eating, cooking and lifestyles and can take a larger role n the overall well being of the membership, not just the spiritual well-being. You cannot do the work of God while your body is too sick. Yes, you have faith but you can do so much more when you are in optimal health.

  3. Reshenda Strickland

    what about “CORPORATE AMERICA?
    Mcdonalds, burger king, Kfc, krispy cream, starbucks HUH? prepared food is much better than processed fast food!!

  4. Reshenda Strickland

    I am the Author of a book coming soon, titled NEW ATTITUDES its a book to black women about stereotypes.
    It has a chapter about being over weight!
    Im not against eating healthy….. Im for it 100% but its not the fault of one race of people, come on shame on the person who wrote it! Theres nothing wrong with addressing problems in the black community but GODS WORD SAYS COME IN LOVE! not putting down the one thing we black people have to look forward to every week SERVING THE LORD & THE CHURCH.


  5. No. People just need to be responsible for the choices that they make. If people in church are serving those foods, its only because misery loves company. If you know it’s bad for you, just say no!

  6. The main reason for obesity in any culture is “money”. It is very expensive to eat healthy and a lot of folk can’t afford to buy healthy food.

  7. This is old so I know only a few people will see this comment. But anyway, the black church is not really responsible for obesity in our communities. Maybe that might have been more true a long time ago, I don’t know. But as of this day and time, it is our personal eating habits as a whole that are responsible. Black people aren’t eating church dinners daily and some of us not even weekly. Most people regardless of color or religion eat the bulk of their food at home and/or work.

    Eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese at church on the weekend/once a month isn’t making people overweight/obese. Even at home, are black people (especially the younger generation) as a whole even cooking/eating southern food (like meat w/ greens, chittlin’s, cornbread, various buttery desserts) on a daily basis at anymore? I see more black people at the grocery stores loading up on premade, frozen, and boxed food more than I do ingredients for other traditional southern food. Then again, maybe that’s just where I live…

    With all that said, I DO think that churches should aim to feed people healthier food, even if they just serve healthier versions of the same food by changing some ingredients. People should be encouraged to feed their temples (bodies) healthy food.

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