Mandisa’s Cause Of Death Draws Attention To Obesity In The Black Community

Source: Slaven Vlasic / Getty

The Grammy winner and American Idol alum, Mandisa, died of complications of class III obesity at age 47.

According to an autopsy report obtained by PEOPLE, the star was found dead in her home by friends on April 18, and she “was last known alive approximately three weeks” earlier.

MORE: High Rates of Obesity Among Black Women

Class III obesity is a disease in which a person “has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35 or higher and is experiencing obesity-related health conditions,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Click here for more information on the disease.

Obesity and Black people

In 2014, her best friend and backup singer Kisha Mitchell died of breast cancer while pregnant, leading to a low period for Mandisa. The mental health struggles led Mandisa to turn to food, gain a significant amount of weight and become a recluse.

“You’re battling shame, and you don’t want to leave the house,” Mandisa once said. “I didn’t leave the house, for the most part. When I got up, I went downstairs, sat in the recliner, and I watched television nonstop. The only time I left was when I got tired of pizza delivery and decided to get McDonald’s.”

According to statistics from the Cleveland Clinic, Black people have the highest prevalence of severe obesity among adults ages 20 and over. When drawn along gender lines, women have nearly twice the rate of class III obesity than men.

According to research by the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), class III obesity has been on the rise particularly among Black women like Mandisa. NIH said that obesity surgery is “the only effective treatment” for the condition while also noting that Black women are historically “a group with greater need and less access to” the medical procedure.

Mandisa the singer

The Grammy winner was a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and American Idol contestant. Her popular hits include Overcomer, Good Morning, Stronger, and My Deliverer.

“Mandisa loved Jesus, and she used her unusually extensive platform to talk about Him at every turn. Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart,” says David Pierce, K-LOVE Chief Media Officer. “Mandisa struggled, and she was vulnerable enough to share that with us, which helped us talk about our own struggles. Mandisa’s struggles are over. She is with the God she sang about now. While we are saddened, Mandisa is home. We’re praying for Mandisa’s family and friends and ask you to join us.”

Mandisa released her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007 following her time on American Idol. The project debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart, making her the first new female artist to accomplish that and she earned her first Grammy nomination for best pop/contemporary gospel album.

Mandisa released five more albums throughout her career, including 2013’s Overcomer, which earned a Grammy Award win for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album the following year.

Mandisa channeled her pain into an album, 2017’s Out of the Dark, and wrote about her experiences in a 2022 memoir, Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy.


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The post Mandisa’s Cause Of Death Draws Attention To Obesity In The Black Community appeared first on NewsOne.

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