Baptist Health gives $250K to UTSA for faith-based obesity prevention program

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(Nov. 14, 2012) -- The UTSA College of Education and Human Development announces Associate Professor Meizi He will receive $250,000 from Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio to promote a proven obesity and diabetes prevention program at churches on San Antonio's south and west sides. The program, "Building a Healthy Temple," targets Latinos with a faith-based curriculum focused on healthy eating, active living and healthy body weight.

Research shows that more than 90 percent of Latinos are members of faith-based organizations. Moreover, Latino children and adults are at high risk for obesity, type II diabetes and other obesity-related complications.

Dr. He set out to address the program by creating a health-based curriculum that could be administered in churches. Her program, Building a Healthy Temple, is an intervention centered on the supportive encouragement of faith-based communities. The comprehensive program includes:

  • A health ministry advisory committee
  • Health-related sermons
  • Health screenings
  • Sunday school curricula
  • Bible study sessions
  • Nutrition education
  • Physical activity training
  • Cooking demonstrations

The program also encourages churches to create a community garden, offer active after-school activities for kids and conduct church-wide active living contests.

Through a holistic approach that integrates spiritual and physical health, Building a Healthy Temple has the potential to result in long-lasting lifestyle changes. Over the last two years, Dr. He has successfully pilot testing the program in two churches on the West Side, where significant numbers of participating parishioners have experienced healthy transformations. The Baptist Health Foundation's grant will enable He to implement the program in 18 additional churches, reaching more than 3,600 adults and children.

"I cannot tell you how grateful I am to Baptist Health Foundation for providing us with the support to expand Building a Healthy Temple into the areas that need it most," said He. "With the right tools, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of Latinos."

Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio is committed to improving the health of the community by fostering and funding clinical, educational, spiritual and scientific initiatives while honoring God and their Baptist heritage. Program partners include the San Antonio Food Bank, Texas Diabetes Institute and Central Church of God.