132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

Churches as structures of social support for healthier eating

Deidre Griffith, MPH1, Elizabeth A. Baker, PhD1, Jennifer Strayhorn, BA2, M.S. Nanney, MS, RD1, Cheryl Kelly, MA1, and Ellen Barnidge1. (1) School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63104, 314-977-8195, griffdj@slu.edu, (2) Abraham's Children, Interfaith Partnership of Metropolitan St. Louis, 4144 Lindell Blvd., Saint Louis, MO 63108

Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which dietary behavior was associated with the communal environment and social support provided by churches. Methods: A face-to-face questionnaire (N=315) was used to determine church attendance and diet. In addition, individual qualitative interviews were conducted to determine participant involvement in food-related church events and the extent to which participants felt that membership in their church community contributed to their dietary behavior. Participants were 92% African-American, 78% female, ranging in age from 18 to 66+. Approximately 32 % were below the federally set poverty level. Results: Results showed that: 1) Participants who attended church consumed 25% more powerhouse fruits and vegetables than those who did not attend church: 2) There were a number of different ways, rather than a single mechanism, through which churches influence dietary behavior. Conclusion: Findings suggest that church membership can provide a key link in the chain of social support structures that encourage healthier dietary choices and indicate the importance for churches to take active roles in not only spiritual, but health behavior guidance as well.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Faith Community, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Models of Physical Activity to Reduce Obesity in Faith Based Settings

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA