Your tax dollars at work: Church-based exercise coaches edition

Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon details an unusual arrangement involving churches, Latinos, exercise, and your tax dollars.

The National Institutes of Health is spending roughly $700,000 on a study attempting to use churches to get Latinos to go to the park to work out.

RAND Corporation researchers believe their project is the first study of Latino Catholic church-led workout events in public parks to fight obesity.

“Public parks comprise local infrastructure that can be leveraged for community PA [physical activity], but tend to be underutilized, particularly in low-income communities,” according to the grant for the project. “Parks in low-income and minority communities tend to have less PA programming, especially targeting adults, and higher crime and other factors that affect park use. There is a need for interventions that address community concerns, target the built environment, and ‘activate’ park use.”

Enter churches: Researchers believe they can co-opt their “vast social networks” and “moral authority” to get Latinos to exercise.

“Churches are credible, stable entities that have significant reach within Latino communities and a history of social service provision and advocacy related to health and well-being,” the grant states. “Our research has found that church-based interventions can be effective across a wide range of health issues and types of churches.”

The study, which began last month, will develop a “multi-level” and “inter-sectoral” intervention joining Latino Catholic churches with local parks. Approximately 1,500 parishioners in Los Angeles will be recruited for the project.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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