UTSA trains local church leaders how to combat obesity in Latinos

Latino family

Share this Story

(April 9, 2013) -- UTSA kinesiology scholar Meizi He, M.D., Ph.D., has been working with two local churches to implement an obesity prevention program targeting Latinos. This weekend, Dr. He and her team trained approximately 50 local church leaders to expand the program to four additional churches on San Antonio's South Side.

More than 90 percent of Latinos are members of faith-based organizations, making churches an ideal location to engage the community. Nearly 40 percent of Mexican American children are overweight, putting them at high risk for obesity, type II diabetes and other obesity-related complications.

Dr. He's program, Building a Healthy Temple, targets Latinos with a faith-based curriculum that promotes healthy eating, active living and healthy body weight. It is funded in part by Baptist Health Foundation.

Last weekend's training introduced church leaders, lay leaders and church volunteers to the program, which included sharing best practices from churches that already implemented the program. UTSA and its partnering organizations hosted break-out sessions to train participants on the components of the program: health sermons, Bible study, Sunday School, nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, and physical activity.

"We have piloted Building a Healthy Temple in San Antonio for two years, and it has been embraced by church leaders and church-goers," said Dr. He. "Our pilot studies have shown that many of the participants have adopted more active lifestyles. It's really exciting to have the support of Baptist Health Foundation, so we can expand the program to reach more people here in San Antonio."

For more information, contact Meizi He at 210-458-5416 or meizi.he@utsa.edu.