Introduction: Americans have low levels of knowledge of and adherence to recommendations for healthy eating of fruits and vegetables and for physical activity (HEPA). We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial of a lay health worker intervention to increase HEPA among Vietnamese Americans.
Methods: We randomized 64 lay health workers to 2 intervention arms. Each lay health worker recruited 10 participants aged 50 to 74. From 2008 to 2013, using flip charts, lay health workers led 2 educational sessions on HEPA (intervention) or colorectal cancer (comparison). We assessed HEPA knowledge and self-reported behaviors by preintervention and postintervention surveys 6 months apart.
Results: Of the 640 participants, 50.0% were female, 38.4% had lived in the United States for 10 years or fewer, and 71.4% reported limited English proficiency. Knowledge of the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables (≥5 servings daily) increased from 2.6% to 60.5% in the intervention group (n = 311) and from 2.9% to 6.7% in the comparison group (n = 316) (intervention vs comparison change, P < .001). Knowledge of the physical activity recommendation (≥150 minutes weekly) increased from 2.6% to 62.4% among intervention participants and from 1.0% to 2.5% among comparison participants (P < .001). Consumption of 5 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables increased more in the intervention group (8.4% to 62.1%) than in the comparison group (5.1% to 12.7%) (P < .001). Participants reporting 150 minutes or more of physical activity weekly increased from 28.9% to 54.0% in the intervention group and from 38.0% to 46.8% in the comparison group (intervention vs comparison change, P = .001).
Conclusion: A lay health worker intervention increased both healthy eating and physical activity knowledge and self-reported behaviors among older Vietnamese Americans.