Development and pilot testing of a nutrition education program for adult African American church members

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Virginia Tech


A six-week nutrition education program was designed for adult African Americans and pilot-tested in one church in Farmville, Virginia. The content of this program was determined from health topics selected by the participants and based on Healthy People 2000 objectives. The topics selected were the following: 1. Hypertension Prevention and Control 2. Stress Management 3. Heart Healthy Eating and 4. Nutrition and Cancer Prevention. The Food Guide Pyramid also was incorporated into the program.

Effectiveness for improving health knowledge was determined using pre-tests and a post-test, while improvements in short-term behavior pertaining to dietary intake were described by the participants themselves. Anthropometric measurements, three day diet records and a health risk appraisal were obtained from participants. In addition, the program itself and the data collected were evaluated based on several Healthy People 2000 objectives.

Attendance at each session ranged from seven to twelve participants. A paired t-test indicated that no significant improvement took place in health knowledge based on the pre-test and post-test scores. However, comprehension of the Food Guide Pyramid was judged to be very good and behavioral improvement was suggested by the participants with regard to lowering their intake of sodium and fat and increasing their intake of fruit.

Dietary intake from three day food records was analyzed based on the number of servings consumed from each food group in the Food Guide Pyramid This analysis indicated that only one person was meeting the minimum recommendations made by the Food Guide Pyramid. Data from eleven pre-intervention diet records indicated that over half of the group was not meeting 70 percent of the RDA for pantothenic acid, copper, and zinc. However, all eleven diet records indicated that at least 70 percent of the RDA was being met for Vitamin C, iron and magnesium.

Anthropometric measurements indicated that five participants were within their desirable weight range, while five were slightly overweight and five were classified as obese according to their desirable weight ranges. Seven participants had systolic blood pressure values greater than 140 mm Hg, two of whom also had diastolic values greater than 90 mm Hg.