Toolkit Introduction

A. Welcome/Introduction

The Health and Wellness Ministry leaders of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville have put together this toolkit in the hopes of providing the basic information and skills needed to successfully implement a robust Health and Wellness ministry in your local congregation. The information provided serves as a resource. It can be used in part or in its entirety. We recognize that ministries come in different sizes with different capacities and capabilities. We recognize that this is not a one size fit all model, however, we are confident that everyone can take various components away to use towards either establishing or enhancing a current health related program.

B. Purpose of ChurchFIT

ChurchFIT is a comprehensive healthy living, healthy lifestyle wellness program developed to support individuals and families improve their overall health in a holistic manner. It is important to understand that we do not promote the ChurchFIT program as an event, but rather as a movement designed to educate, empower, and provide or improve access to resources and services that will enable individuals and families to reach their personal health goals. Understanding that the Church is often considered a major cornerstone within many communities, we believe that it is the obligation of the faith-based community to take the lead in this area. The ultimate goal is to help facilitate long lasting, life changing behaviors that eventually will improve the health of this generation and future generations to come.

C. Background

There continues to be a significant difference in the burden of disease among African-Americans compared to other groups. In short, African-Americans suffer from disease and die at much quicker and more alarming rates than any other racial/ethnic group, with the leading causes of death being heart disease, cancer, and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • The leading cause of death for African Americans…
  • Although African Americans represent only 13% of the population, nearly twice that percentage die from heart disease each year.
  • Among non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older, 46% suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • African American men are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic white males.
  • The most commonly diagnosed cancers among black men are prostate (31% of all cancers), lung (15%), and colon and rectum (9%).
  • Among black women, the most common cancers are breast (32% of all cancers), lung (11%), and colon and rectum (9%).
  • African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers.
  • African-Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial groups within the American population.
  • African-Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians and their rate of first strokes is almost double that of Caucasians.
  • Strokes in African-Americans tend to occur earlier in life.  
  • As survivors, African-Americans are more likely to become disabled and experience difficulties with daily living and activities.
  • 3.7 million (14.7%) of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
  • Blacks are 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than Whites.
  • 43% of African American women and 39% of African American men suffer from hypertension.
  • African Americans have the highest rates of obesity.
  • 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity compared with Whites.
  • 53% of African American women and 36% of African American men are obese.
  • 18.5% of African American boys are obese.
  • 27.7% of African American girls obese.
  • The current generation is projected to be the first not to live longer than its parents.
  • Food deserts literature shows that those who have better access to supermarkets have lower levels of obesity and related diseases.
  • USDA reports show that segregation by race and income are associated with limited access.
  • One of the most powerful predictors of limited access to food variety in rural communities is socioeconomic disadvantage.
  • 18% of African Americans under 65 years are without health insurance coverage.
  • Over 103 million people of color [nationally] suffer disproportionately in the healthcare system.
  • A larger share of African Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor.
  • African- Americans account for about 13% of the U.S. population, however, about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS do not survive.
  • African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States.
  • The number of HIV diagnoses among African American women has declined, though it is still high compared to women of other races/ethnicities.

See the APPENDIX 1.1 for additional statistic information