Background: A key intervention to address Black-White health disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) is to improve diet quality, especially vegetable consumption, among African Americans. However, effective and sustainable interventions are lacking for this population.
Objective: Conduct a proof-of-concept study to measure the feasibility of implementing and rigorously assessing a novel, culturally tailored church-based intervention to improve vegetable consumption and total diet quality among African Americans.
Methods: The study was designed and implemented by a community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership between researchers, pastors, and church leaders. The Abundant Living in Vibrant Energy (ALIVE) intervention included a Bible study and small group-based nutrition education delivered by pastors and church members in 24 two-hour sessions over 9 months as well as church-wide activities. Overall, 206 people enrolled across five African American churches.
Results: Participants attended 56% of sessions. The mean number of daily vegetable servings at baseline was 3.04; this increased by one serving at the 9-month follow-up (p < .001). Vegetable servings increased by more than one in 47% of participants. Total diet quality also increased (p < .01) and significant reductions were found in weight (-1.0 kg; p < .001), systolic blood pressure (-3.91 mm Hg; p = .002), and diastolic blood pressure (-2.18 mm Hg; p = .001).
Conclusions: The ALIVE intervention was flexibly adapted by a range of churches; successfully implemented by pastors, deacons, and church leaders; and rigorously evaluated across a range of church settings. Further study of this intervention is warranted given the evidence for potential efficacy and a high level of external validity.