Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 901–914 | Cite as

Considering Weight Loss Programs and Public Health Partnerships in American Evangelical Protestant Churches

  • D. Gibbes MillerEmail author
Original Paper


The obesity epidemic is a critical public health threat facing the USA. With the advent of American Evangelical Protestant (AEP) weight loss guides and narratives, AEP churches could potentially aid public health agencies in combatting obesity, and some scholars have called for investment in partnerships between public health agencies and religious institutions. This paper examines the theological and social underpinnings of AEP weight loss programs and considers the potential benefits and risks of public health partnerships with AEP churches to combat obesity. While AEP churches may be successful at empowering people to lose weight, AEP weight loss also carries several risks. These risks include reinforcing gendered bodily norms, stigmatizing both overweight bodies and unhealthy behaviors deemed to be sinful (for example, overeating), and failing to acknowledge social factors that promote obesity. These risks must be assessed and minimized to create appropriate public health weight loss partnerships with AEP communities.


Public health Obesity Religion Ethics Weight loss 



I am grateful to Aline Kalbian, Martin Kavka, Sophia Gibert, and Haley Sullivan for helpful comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarshipWashingtonUSA

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