by Jessica D. Bullock, DISeptember 11, 2019

Research from Duke’s Samuel Dubois Cook Center for Social Equity shows that black men who attend church daily are nearly three times as likely to become obese than those who never or rarely attend.

What We Know:

  • The study completed shows the differences among different denominations, including African Americans who identify as Baptists, Catholic, and Presbyterians, who had the lowest odds of diabetes.
  • One-third of all men and women are obese. Among African-Americans, it is nearly one-half (48.4 percent), placing them at greater risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
  • Men and women who take on important roles in the church and wear many hats outside of it tend to not to have much time for healthy self-care practices, leading to neglect and poor eating habits.
  • Data from the National Survey of American Life studied the connections between faith behaviors and health outcomes in connection to African American and Afro-Caribbean Christians. It found that black men who attend church regularly are most likely to become obese.
  • A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that black churches provide more health-related services than white churches. This included prevention and treatment-oriented programs, as well as health screening, education and support.
  • The social norms created by the black church have been around for years, whether that is church anniversaries, men’s/women’s day or having an onsite food pantry. So even though obesity rates are higher in certain communities, these norms have good reasoning.

Reducing obesity must begin with one person desiring to be better for themselves

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