A recent survey of African American church goers in North Carolina finds that a majority of the respondents believe that churches have a responsibility to promote healthy living to their congregations.
Interestingly though, respondents also said they’d prefer to receive such messages through workshops and health fairs, rather than from the pulpit.
“Many of us who’ve grown up in the church understand its historical context, and know that churches function beyond spiritual guidance and social support,” said lead study author Adebowale A. Odulana, M.D., an internist and pediatrician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nevertheless, Odulana says he was surprised at how many African Americans believe their church is responsible for promoting health in their members and the community.
A coalition of black cardiologists say one way for churches to make an impact on the health of their congregations is by changing the food consumed at church.
“Even though people only go one day a week, it determines how they live their lives the other six days … In these church dinners you see a lot of cornbread, rice, fried chicken — the holy bird,” Akinboboye told the New York Daily News. “People go to church events and see these foods displayed and assume they can eat them the same way at home.”
To drive home his message, Akinboboye and his Association of Black Cardiologists produced a documentary titled “Before You Eat The Church Food Watch This Video,” link African-American lifestyles to the heart disease epidemic ravaging the community.
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