The faith, activity, and nutrition (FAN) program: design of a participatory research intervention to increase physical activity and improve dietary habits in African American churches

Contemp Clin Trials. 2010 Jul;31(4):323-35. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2010.03.011. Epub 2010 Mar 30.


Background: African Americans are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer morbidity and mortality. Physical activity and healthy dietary practices can reduce this risk. The church is a promising setting to address health disparities, and community-based participatory research is a preferred approach.

Objectives: Using a community-based participatory approach and the social ecologic model, the FAN trial aims to increase self-reported moderate-intensity physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption and reduce blood pressure in African American church members. Secondary aims are to increase objectively measured moderate-intensity physical activity and fiber/whole grain consumption and reduce fat consumption.

Design: FAN is a group randomized trial (GRT) with two levels of clustering: participants (N=1279; n=316 accelerometer subgroup) within church and church within church cluster. In the first wave, seven clusters including 23 churches were randomized to an immediate intervention or delayed intervention. In subsequent waves, 51 churches were randomized to an immediate or delayed intervention.

Methods: Church committee members, pastors, and cooks participate in full-day trainings to learn how to implement physical activity and dietary changes in the church. Monthly mailings and technical assistance calls are delivered over the 15-month intervention. Members complete measurements at baseline and 15 months. A detailed process evaluation is included.

Summary: FAN focuses on modifying the social, cultural, and policy environment in a faith-based setting. The use of a community-based participatory research approach, engagement of church leaders, inclusion of a detailed process evaluation, and a formal plan for sustainability and dissemination make FAN unique.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Research Design