DHS awards $1.2 million in grants to combat obesity in minority communities

WASINGTON: Three African-American advocacy groups have received $1.2 million to launch public education campaigns that fight obesity.

WASINGTON: Three African-American advocacy groups have received $1.2 million to launch public education campaigns that fight obesity.

The Department of Health and Human Service awarded the grants to address the higher incidence of obesity among minorities, particularly women and children.

The HHS is currently targeting the black population, but also plans to award additional grants to Hispanic groups.

At the National Council of Negro Women, the outreach is part of an ongoing education effort known as "African-American Women as We Age."

For the obesity component, the NCNW will conduct a survey to identify the barriers to losing weight. It is also launching a "train the trainer" program, educating people in each community to deliver anti-obesity workshops.

The Walker Marchant Group is helping the NCNW with media relations and messaging.

"A lot of messages out there do not resonate with us," said NCNW project manager Zelna Joseph. "We really want to pull together and reach our long arms into the community."

But she noted that the obesity initiative, like the umbrella aging campaign, would have a positive tone.

"We did not want to address this from the disparities," she said. "We decided to look at what are the positive aspects of aging well."

Other groups receiving grants are the National Urban League and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

The NUL is working with its local affiliates on community-based education programs that focus on nutrition, physical activity and disease prevention.

The Association is working to improve the health habits of college students, and is relying on its chapters at five campuses to help deliver the message.

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