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Body & Soul

Program Synopsis

Designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among African Americans, this church-based intervention consists of nutrition-related events and other activities, the development of policies such as food guidelines for church functions, self-help materials, and motivational counseling calls conducted by lay church volunteers. The study showed an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Program Highlights

Purpose: Community-based program designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption (2004).
Age: 19-39 Years (Young Adults), 40-65 Years (Adults), 65+ Years (Older Adults)
Sex: Female, Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black (not of Hispanic or Latino Origin)
Program Focus: Behavior Modification
Population Focus: Faith-Based Groups
Program Area: Diet/Nutrition
Delivery Location: Religious Establishments
Community Type: Suburban, Urban/Inner City
Program Materials

Preview, download, or order free materials on a CD

Program Scores

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Church-based nutrition interventions offer a unique opportunity to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among African Americans.  For fruit and vegetable promotion programs to be widely implemented, they must be proven effective even when delivered by nonprofessional personnel, who receive less training and supervision than those carrying out efficacy studies.  Black Churches United for Better Health and Eat for Life are two nutrition education programs that have been efficacy tested and combined to undergo effectiveness testing in this investigation.

Body and Soul is a combination of the effective components from the Black Churches United for Better Health and Eat for Life programs.  The components include church-wide nutrition activities such as: a kick-off event, forming a project committee, conducting at least three nutrition events, plus one additional event involving the pastor, and making at least one policy change (e.g., establishing guidelines for the types of foods served at church functions or changing snacks served at youth camps).  Additional church-wide activities include hosting guest speakers and cooking demonstrations and taste tests, and providing self-help materials such as a cookbook, video, and educational pamphlets.  A Peer Counseling Training DVD product is available, however, it was not included as part of the original study.  Lay church volunteers conduct at least two motivational counseling calls to members as well.

Implementation time of church-wide activities varies.  Volunteer church liaisons used to recruit members and promote the project received 1 to 2 hours of training.  Each church received a copy of an 18-minute video.  Lay counselors received 12-16 hours of training and conducted at least two motivational calls to approximately five church members; each call was roughly 15 minutes long.

Participants were African American church members aged 17 to 89 years living in California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, and Virginia; 74% were women, 58% were married or living with a partner, 50% had an annual household income of $50,000 or more, and 67% reported at least some college education.

The intervention is suitable for implementation in the church and home settings.

The video, "Forgotten Miracles", the "Eat for Life" cookbook, and the church guidebook, "Body & Soul: A Celebration of Healthy Eating & Living" are required.  A Peer Counseling Training DVD is also available.  Costs associated with program implementation are not provided.

A total of 15 churches, with 1,022 participants from California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware and Virginia were randomly assigned to the Body and Soul intervention or to a comparison group.  Church-wide events and environmental changes for Body and Soul sites were aimed at the entire congregation and included inviting guest speakers, sponsoring food demonstrations, watching a video, and implementing food policy changes to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables.  Consenting participants received two motivational interviewing calls from lay counselors, a cookbook, and several educational pamphlets.  Fruit and vegetable intake was measured at baseline and 6-month follow-up.

Results indicated:

  • At 6-month follow-up, Body and Soul participants consumed more fruits and vegetables per day than control participants. 

      Graph of Study Results

  •  Body and Soul participants decreased their percentage of calories from fat; were more motivated to eat fruits and vegetables; and had greater self-efficacy and social supports to eat fruits and vegetables compared to control participants.

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Updated: 04/05/2023