Orlando Sentinel Examines Local, National Efforts To Address Obesity in Black Community
Black leaders in Orlando, Fla., and across the nation are attempting to help black men and women "rethink the way they eat and exercise" in an effort to address growing obesity in the black community, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to a 2004 survey by the Health Council of East Central Florida, 35.9% of blacks in Central Florida are obese, compared with 20.7% of whites and 20.2% of blacks.
Ian Smith, a Dartmouth Medical School graduate and a former health correspondent, last year launched the "50 Million Pound Challenge," which encourages blacks to lose weight and address related health issues. According to Smith, since April, about 300,000 people have lost a collective 1.2 million pounds. Smith plans to target black fraternities and sororities with the challenge this year.
More black ministers are encouraging their members to focus on their health, the Sentinel reports. Twice a week, members of the St. Mark AME Church in Orlando can take a $5 exercise class that is subsidized by the church. The church also worked with a local hospital to hire a parish nurse. Church Pastor Terence Gray said, "I think more and more churches are realizing that we're not just speaking to a person's spirit, but we have to reach the whole person."
Local schools also have implemented exercise and programs to teach families about exercise and healthy eating (Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel, 2/12).