Obesity continues to be highly prevalent in the African American (AA) population, affecting nearly 40% of AA men and a staggering 59% of AA women. Unfortunately this trend is also present in AA children and adolescents; recent data indicate obesity prevalence in AA children and adolescents (age 2 - 19) to be 24.3% compared to 16.1% of non-Hispanic whites. Given some evidence that obesity spreads through social ties, including families, such that there is an increased risk of obesity among children when a parent is obese, developing effective family-based approaches to improving obesity and its related behaviors is paramount. Collaborative partnerships between academic institutions and faith-based organizations, specifically churches, may be one of the most optimal mediums for intervention development. The proposed conference grant seeks to lay the groundwork for the development of strategies to address family-based obesity in the AA community by leveraging the faith community. This will be accomplished by expanding an existing research partnership between The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) and Windsor Village United Methodist Church (WVUMC) - Creating a Higher Understanding of Cancer Research & Community Health (CHURCH). Specifically, we will: 1) enhance an existing faith-based-academic partnership to address family obesity and obesity- related behaviors in the African American community; 2) strengthen the capacity of partnership stakeholders and the local community to actively participate in the partnership through capacity building opportunities; 3) assess congregational and community interest in obesity and obesity-related behaviors in African Americans; and 4) develop a community-driven research agenda focused on addressing obesity in faith-based settings). To meet these aims we will invite community partners to join an academic-community-faith-based partnership, develop an organizational structure for the partnership and strengthen partnership through capacity building. We will conduct a community needs assessment focused on church- based factors that influence implementation of obesity programs and concerns and needs of AA youth, adults and church leadership with regards to obesity and its related behaviors. We will implement health education derived from community assessments, solicit feedback, and develop a project concept for future development into a grant application. Our goal is that the successful completion of this conference grant series will result in: 1) an expanded academic, faith-based partnership with the capacity to be leaders and a driving force to eliminate disparities in AA obesity in Houston and potentially nationally (Aims & 2); 2) a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and needs of AA families and faith- based organizations to address obesity (Aim 3); and 3) a community-driven agenda in the form of project concepts, future grants, and sustained Partnership beyond the life of the conference series grant (Aim 4).
The proposed project builds on a successful community-academic partnership between MD Anderson Cancer Center and Windsor Village United Methodist Church (WVUMC) in Houston, TX. The proposed project plans to use a community- based participatory (CBPR) approach to capitalize on the existing partnership and enhance it to address family obesity and obesity-related behaviors in the African American community This partnership will greatly expand the knowledge base for conducting community-based participatory research with faith-based communities.