African American churches focus on being holy and healthy

"First Baptist is among many big African American congregations locally and across the country that in recent years have decided to make health and wellness a major priority. The health ministries’ efforts range from nutrition to Zumba classes to showing parishioners how a healthful lifestyle is promoted in scripture.

"The programs are a response to rising awareness of illnesses caused by obesity, fueled by a national public health focus on the issue, including first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. High blood pressure and obesity, both of which can be alleviated with proper diet and exercise, have a disproportionate impact on African Americans, who are 1.4 times as likely as whites to be obese, according to a 2012 report from the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services."

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