Trailer – Before You Eat the Church Food Watch This
FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2013, 4:00 AM
Dr. Ola Akinboboye and his Association of Black Cardiologists wanted a video that would link African-American lifestyles to the heart disease epidemic ravaging the community.
They found it.
“Before You Eat The Church Food Watch This Video,” is the film, and Akinboboye, 52, the Rosedale, Queens-based president of the 2,500-member international ABC, hopes it will help decrease the alarming health issues afflicting the African-American communities many of his members serve.
“The average black man lives 68 years, while the average white woman lives to 85,” Akinboboye said. “African-Americans have heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney failure and dialysis at rates that are 20 to 30 percent higher than whites. That is the frustration for cardiologists, trying to eliminate these disparities.”
While some of those differences may have genetic origins, most are lifestyle issues, many traceable to the way African-Americans historically use and prepare food, he said.
Akinboboye believes another traditional African-American stalwart, the black church, can be used to create more heart-friendly menus in African-American households.
ANDREW SCHWARTZ FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS———-Dr. Ola Akinboboye, Associate Professor of Cardiology at Cornell Weill Medical Center and head of the Association of Black Cardiologists, in his Rosedale, Queens office.
Change the church menu, you change the home one as well.
“If you look at the eating habits of our forefathers during slavery times, you see their food reflects a creative and adaptive response to racial oppression and poverty,” Akinboboye said. “If you look at it objectively, it is actually slave food. Slaves did not have access to choice cuts of meat. They had to make do with the less desirable parts, like intestines, or chitlins, and hamhocks.”
Much of that food is high on the glycemic index, meaning once eaten they can raise blood sugar levels fairly quickly. Muscles convert this sugar to energy. Any excess is stored in the fatty tissue.
But slaves worked hard on backbreaking jobs, burning off most of the sugar in their bloodstream. “The high sugars are what they needed at the time to deal with what they needed to deal with,” Akinboboye said. “They were cultivating large portions of land, and needed large portions of food and the energy it provided to do that work.”
It is one of the blessings of progress that modern African-Americans generally don’t work as hard as their ancestors. But with eating habits learned from their ancestors, many African-Americans still regularly chow down on high calorie “soul food” without getting anything close to the exercise their forebearers did.
“We have been dealt a different set of cards but are playing the same game,” Akinboboye said.
So they gain weight, sometimes lots of it, and suffer from the ailments obesity brings, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, etc.
Akinboboye, who is also executive director of the Queens Heart Institute, in Rosedale, and an associate professor at Cornell Weill Medical Center, said the shame of it is that most of these ailments are preventable.
“The biggest advance in heart health in the past decades is not angioplasty or bypass surgery, it is understanding that heart disease can be prevented by paying attention to blood pressure, by getting people to exercise and watch what they eat,” he said. “Those things go a long way beyond what we can do with angioplasty.”
The “Before You Eat the Church Food” video is that brainchild of Washington, DC television news anchor Bruce Johnson, who, since suffering a heart attack at 40 years old has devoted much of his career to educating African-Americans about heart health.
Akinboboye said the ABC, with offices in Washington, D.C. and in Times Square, focused on the church because “even though people only go one day a week, it determines how they live their lives the other six days.
“In these church dinners you see a lot of cornbread, rice, fried chicken — the holy bird,” he said. “People go to church events and see these foods displayed and assume they can eat them the same way at home.”
The video shows the ill effects of eating too much, but also suggests different ways to prepare traditional soul food that decreases the fat content. “We’re not saying not to eat it, just eat smaller portions, or less rice and cornbread and hamhocks and more greens,” Akinboboye said.
“This is not an attack on the black church,” he said. “The ABC has always been rooted in the community. We have had programs involving black barber shops and beauty salons. This is a natural extension of that outreach.”
The ABC will debut the video April 23 in Washington, DC during the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual weekend.