While many snickered at the MSNBC headline "Praise the Lard," the title for their article about a Northwestern University study that found that young adults who frequently attended religious activities were far more likely to become obese than those who didn’t.
However, as Reuters reported, there are churches across the country, especially ones with predominantly African-American congregations, that are stepping up to fight the obesity epidemic. The article, "Churches Pair Faith With Fat-Fighting to Curb Obesity," highlights the efforts of African-American pastor Michael Minor and the changes he has brought to his Mississippi church—including his unpopular decision to ban fried chicken at all church functions. He is hoping that other Black churches will follow in his footsteps, telling Reuters, "Our bodies are not our own. They're a gift from God. We should do a better job with our bodies."
Apparently, Minor isn't alone. Churches across the country are eager to do their part in shifting perceptions around what healthy living really means. Examples include a Texas 100-day weight-loss challenge launched last month between churches in San Antonio and Austin and health initiatives that are in the works at Black churches in Tennessee. For African-Americans, this is particularly beneficial, as Black Americans not only have high rates of church attendance, but, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of African-American adults (and 43 percent of children) are obese or overweight.
Victor Sutton, director of the Office of Preventive Health for the Mississippi State Health Department, told Reuters, "Churches are a foundation in the community. Sometimes you can have a doctor tell someone something, and they'll blow it off. A pastor can tell someone what to do, and they'll take it as a scientific fact."
Does your church have any health initiatives? Let us know about it!