National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and Academy Announce Joint Initiative to Tackle High Obesity Rates, Persistent Health Disparities in the African American Community

September 27, 2021

Nashville, TN – Leaders of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics announced a strategic partnership aimed at reducing health disparities for African Americans focused on aligning nutrition security and ministry outreach during the launch of NBCUSA's convening of faith leaders.

"African Americans suffer disproportionately from COVID-19 deaths and other nutrition-related health disparities. Increasing access to healthy foods and addressing nutrition as a social determinant of health that prevents diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and obesity are the cornerstone of this partnership. We hope to achieve health equity for members of all of our congregations." stated Rev. Dr. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptists Convention, USA.

The joint initiative will consist of developing print and media resources that can be used in faith-based health ministries on issues such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, eating on a budget and living with kidney disease. NBCUSA member churches will be encouraged to use the resources by incorporating them into new and existing programs and services including workshops and seminars focused on biblical connections to food and nutrition.

"The Academy recognizes the importance of improving the lives of African Americans and every ethnic group by improving nutrition security. We are excited to collaborate with the NBCUSA on this important lifesaving initiative, which meets members of the community in their place of worship and builds on their principles of faith." said Patricia Babjak, chief executive officer of the Academy. Babjak recognized Evelyn Crayton, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, for her leadership of the Academy's task force comprised of members from its National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition and Religion interest groups that have been diligently working on the initiative. Crayton is a past president of Academy and the first African American to hold the position.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of states with high obesity rates nearly doubled over the last two years. The report reflects data preceding the pandemic and reveals persistent racial and ethnic disparities, including that in 35 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic Black American residents had obesity rates at or above 35%. The overall obesity rate for all ethnic and racial groups was highest for adults in Mississippi at 39.7% of the population. The CDC noted that people living with obesity are at increased risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.

The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., (NBCUSA), represents approximately 7.5 million African American Baptists, making it one of the largest African American organizations in the country.