Effectiveness of a Church-Based Program at Increasing Physical Activity and Healthy Dietary Habits in African Americans

2014-08-27 03:42:22 | BioPortfolio


Obese African Americans are at risk for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Church-based interventions have the potential to positively influence the health habits and behaviors of a large percentage of African Americans. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a church-based program that emphasizes increased physical activity and healthy dietary habits among members of predominately African American churches in South Carolina.


Many obesity-related diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, occur more frequently in ethnic minorities than in Caucasians. African Americans have an extremely high church attendance rate, making church-based interventions a viable method to reach a wide audience and positively influence health habits and behaviors. The most effective way to prevent or reverse the effects of obesity is through weight loss, which can be accomplished by increasing physical activity and following a low fat and low sodium diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Few programs have been developed that have specifically examined the effects of a church-based physical activity and dietary intervention. This study will encourage church leaders to assist in the development of a health promotion program that will incorporate the church's social, cultural, and policy influences. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention on increasing physical activity, improving blood pressure levels, and promoting healthy dietary habits among church members. The importance of pastor support and participation will be evaluated, and the results from this study may be used to develop additional church-based interventions across a larger geographic area.

In Year 1 of this 5-year study, representatives from the Palmetto Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and three state universities in South Carolina will participate in monthly planning sessions to develop the intervention. Local health committees and church pastors and cooks will be trained to implement the program. The 18-month intervention will occur in three waves; where at least 60 churches will be randomly assigned to participate in either the immediate intervention or delayed intervention. The program will emphasize increased physical activity and the adaptation of a healthy diet that includes low fat and low sodium foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. At baseline and Month 18, blood pressure will be measured, and physical activity levels and fruit and vegetable intake will be assessed for some church members. Additionally, throughout the study, some participants will wear an accelerometer, which is a small device that measures physical activity levels.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Uncontrolled, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Prevention




Physical Activity and Dietary Health Promotion Program


African Methodist Episcopal Churches in South Carolina
South Carolina
United States




National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:42:22-0400

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