The Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Program

A Randomized Controlled Trial in African-American Churches


      Faith-based interventions hold promise for promoting health in ethnic minority populations. To date, however, few of these interventions have used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, have targeted both physical activity and healthy eating, and have focused on structural changes in the church.


      To report the results of a group randomized CBPR intervention targeting physical activity and healthy eating in African-American churches.


      Group RCT. Data were collected from 2007 to 2011. Statistical analyses were conducted in 2012.


      Seventy-four African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches in South Carolina and 1257 members within them participated in the study.


      Churches were randomized to an immediate (intervention) or delayed (control) 15-month intervention that targeted organizational and environmental changes consistent with the structural ecologic model. A CBPR approach guided intervention development. Intervention churches attended a full-day committee training and a full-day cook training. They also received a stipend and 15 months of mailings and technical assistance calls to support intervention implementation.

      Main outcome measures

      Primary outcomes were self-reported moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption, and measured blood pressure. Secondary outcomes were self-reported fat- and fiber-related behaviors. Measurements were taken at baseline and 15 months. Intent-to-treat repeated measures ANOVA tested group X time interactions, controlling for church clustering, wave, and size, and participant age, gender, and education. Post hoc ANCOVAs were conducted with measurement completers.


      There was a significant effect favoring the intervention group in self-reported leisure-time MVPA (d=0.18, p=0.02), but no effect for other outcomes. ANCOVA analyses showed an intervention effect for self-reported leisure-time MVPA (d=0.17, p=0.03) and self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption (d=0.17, p=0.03). Trainings were evaluated very positively (training evaluation item means of 4.2–4.8 on a 5-point scale).


      This faith-based structural intervention using a CBPR framework showed small but significant increases in self-reported leisure-time MVPA. This program has potential for broad-based dissemination and reach.

      Trial registration

      This study is registered at NCT00379925.
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          Wilcox S, Parrott A, Baruth M, et al. The Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial in African-American Churches. Am J Prev Med 2013;44(2):122–31.
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