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Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools (10/17/04)

Church’s prayer births children’s ministry (10/17/04)

Partner program revitalizes dying church (10/10/04)

Church music festival attracts variety of visitors (10/10/04)

Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers (9/19/04)

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots (9/12/04)

A/G, COGIC join forces through inner-city campus (9/12/04)

Christians respond to victimized women and children (8/29/04)

Growing slavic church shares new facility (8/29/04)

Couple embarks on capitol prayer tour (8/29/04)

ADHD requires multifaceted treatment approach (8/22/04)

Small congregation grows — by planting churches (8/22/04)

‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance, at least for now (8/8/04)

Church reaches out to those feeling loss (8/8/04)

Churches act pre-emptively to reduce risk of abuse (7/25/04)

Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans (7/25/04)

Church helps out with donated CD, recycled buses (7/25/04)

New wave of pastors minister to emerging adults (7/18/04)

‘Walking Witnesses’ raise thousands for missions (7/18/04)

Healing center offers alternative medicine (7/18/04)

Growing number of Hispanics impact economy (7/11/04)

'Busy' couple finds time for compassion ministry (7/11/04)

Hand-copied Bible leaves 40-year legacy (7/11/04)

Pastor ends hunger strike when strip club promises to sell (6/27/04)

‘Military survival kit’ requests inundate A/G (6/27/04)

Fourth of July outreach draws thousands (6/27/04)

Drivers warned to steer clear of distractions (6/27/04)

Pastors face more counseling demands (6/20/04)

Church uses touch of ‘flavor’ to reach community (6/20/04)

Outrageous self-expression often starts, stops at home (6/13/04)

Runner raises $5,200 for Convoy of Hope (6/13/04)

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt (5/30/04)

Funds for Easter play buy groceries instead (5/30/04)

Identity theft threatens millions of Americans (5/23/04)

Spanish speakers face challenges, opportunities in United States culture (5/16/04)

Health experts implore Americans to get fit (5/9/04)

Leaders say Christian faith stems recidivism (4/25/04)

Riders feel at home in Orlando sanctuary (4/18/04)

Churches try to keep human touch with new media (4/11/04)

Christians see Passion as ministry opportunity (3/28/04)

Tutoring improves lives, opens doors for evangelism (3/21/04)

Cybertheft costly — especially for Christians (3/14/04)

A/G women seize new ministry opportunities (2/29/04)

Investment in early spiritual maturity reaps rewards (2/22/04)

Christian families respond to foster care opportunities (2/15/04)

Childless couples grapple with emotional roller coaster, faith challenges (2/8/04)

Few men seek help from abortion grief, guilt (1/18/04)

Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

2003 PE Report stories

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Health experts implore Americans to get fit

By Kirk Noonan (5/9/04)

Annually the killer takes 400,000 lives and costs more than $100 billion. Right now, 64.5 percent of Americans are within the killer’s grasp. The main weapons the killer depends on are poor choices, too little time, junk food and a general lack of motivation or willingness to fight back.

The killer is obesity. Being overweight has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and is quickly challenging smoking as America’s No. 1 killer. Because obesity is so lethal yet not taken seriously by a vast majority of Americans, health and medical leaders are scrambling to reiterate that fat kills.

“To know that poor eating habits and inactivity are on the verge of surpassing tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable death in America should motivate all Americans to take action to protect their health,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said when announcing a new national education campaign in March. “We need to tackle America’s weight issues as aggressively as we are addressing smoking and tobacco.”

Julie, 56, who attends an Assemblies of God church in California, was embarrassed when her doctor told her she was 25 pounds overweight. Tall and slender for most of her life with what she calls a “fast metabolism,” she never worried about her weight. But after turning 50, she says, “the weight started sticking to me.”

She blames menopause, her office job where she sat for several hours each day, taking in too many calories and lack of exercise.

“I never thought I had a weight problem,” says Julie, whose story is similar to millions of Americans. “But when my doctor told me I was overweight and had high cholesterol it scared me.”

Julie embraced healthy, well-proportioned meals, joined a gym and began an exercise regime. In two months she lost 17 pounds and lowered her cholesterol by 50 points.

“Today I feel healthy and have more energy,” she says, noting that she wants to lose eight more pounds. “Losing the weight and staying healthy is hard but it’s a lifelong deal.”

James W. Long Jr. directs the Utah Artificial Heart Program in Salt Lake City and leads a team that is developing a revolutionary artificial heart pump. He says more people need to have a wake-up call similar to Julie’s.

“Over the last several decades, the problem of being overweight has worsened by 20 to 25 percent,” says Long, a graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, Mo. “Being overweight raises the risk of developing heart disease by two- to fourfold.”

Obesity can lead to high blood pressure, type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, sleep disorders, gallbladder disease, various cancers and even death. To help avoid such ailments experts say people must eat wiser and exercise. In doing so, some experts say, Christians also can share their faith.

“Being overweight is a serious problem, but it is easily prevented and corrected,” says Barbara Schoonover, a registered nurse and diabetes clinician/educator who attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Mo. “A person can drastically improve his or her life by cutting back on the amount of food he or she eats and exercising regularly 30 to 45 minutes a day.”

Schoonover knows this to be true firsthand. Four years ago her brother died of a heart attack related to his being severely overweight and his diabetes (which runs in their family). Schoonover mourned her brother’s death, but also let it inspire her to live a healthier life and to keep teaching people to do the same. After her brother’s death Schoonover lost 30 pounds by practicing what she teaches.

“I regained energy and prevented the onset of diabetes,” she says of her weight loss and newfound healthy lifestyle. “Plus, living healthy is a wonderful testimony to what can be accomplished with the Lord’s help.”

Each day Schoonover walks several miles. When she walks she frequently visits with other walkers and neighbors who inevitably ask how she lost the weight. Such conversations, says Schoonover, always lead to conversations about faith.

As an educator Schoonover emphasizes walking as an excellent exercise and notes that the risks of cardiac disease and other serious ailments are significantly reduced when people make daily walks a part of their lifestyle.

“America needs to get healthier one small step at a time,” said Secretary Thompson in his address. “Each small step does make a difference, whether it’s taking the stairs instead of an elevator or snacking on fruits and vegetables [instead of junk food]. The more small steps we can take, the further down the road we will be toward better health for ourselves and our families.”

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