I am not asking this to put down anyone or make anyone feel bad for their current state.

Halachically, we are not allowed to harm our body, and it is well known that being overweight is linked with a lot of health detriments such as:

  • Early death

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).

  • High LDL cholesterol

  • low HDL cholesterol

  • high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia)

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Gallbladder disease, etc..

In general then, should a Jew be allowed to eat to an extent that he will gain an unhealthy amount of weight (or maintain an unhealthy amount of weight he already has)? I know the the Chofetz Chaim prohibits overeating on the basis of Leviticus 19:26, in Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Ha-Katzar, but there is a wide presence of overweight Torah scholars and I find it hard to reconcile (I know that just because people are doing it doesn't make it ok, but this is also a topic that I personally never hear discussed in the Jewish world). Additionally, isn't there a concept of not overindulging in worldly pleasures?

  • a person's weight has to do with things that go beyond simple eating. Metabolisms differ, frame sizes differ. The standards of "overweight" are also (to some degree) societal norms.
    – rosends
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 13:57
  • Yes, but in most cases one can still prevent oneself from becoming overweight to an unhealthy extent. I am not referring to the edge cases where there is a factor that one cannot control. I am also not talking about someone being slightly overweight, I am talking where it is unhealthy.
    – Seeker
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 14:27
  • 1
    Rav Kook was big into this - see Orot pg.80. He considered the first step in teshuva as getting into shape (see The Art of T’shuva, Chapter One). See Devarim, 4:9. Rambam, Laws of Rotzeach and Shmirat HaNefesh 11:4 for the general mitzva for staying in shape. It's is indeed a sin to not have a healthy, in shape body!
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 14:29
  • It is clear one should refrain from unhealthy things (Devarim 4:15), like smoking or over-eating, but it doesn't reach the level of a prohibition, see e.g., jewishaction.com/health/…
    – mbloch
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 14:29
  • 2
    The ramban on the phrase “kedoshim tihiyu” says that you should stop yourself from overindulging in permitted things such as meats and wine. Maybe you can make the argument here that self indulgence and overeating whatever foods it may be could be violating kedoshim tihiyu according to ramban Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 14:30


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