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HPP 171 January: Promoting Policy and Environmental Change in Faith-Based Organizations: Outcome Evaluation of a Mini-Grants Program

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High rates of heart disease, cancer, and stroke exist in rural South Georgia where the Emory Prevention Research Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network provided mini-grant funding to six churches to implement policy and environmental change to promote healthy eating and physical activity. This study sought to determine whether perceptions of the health promotion environment changed over time and whether perceived environmental change was associated with healthy behavior at church and in gen- eral. This study used a single-group pre–post design with 1-year follow-up. Parishioners (N = 258) com- pleted self-administered questionnaires assessing per- ceptions of the church health promotion environment relative to healthy eating and physical activity, eating behavior and intention to use physical activity facilities at church, and eating and physical activity behaviors generally. Results indicate that perceived improve- ments in church nutrition environments were most strongly associated with decreases in unhealthy food consumed and stronger intentions to use physical activity resources at church (ps .05). Perceived changes in the physical activity environment were unrelated to church or general behavior. Findings sug- gest that church environments may play an important role in supporting healthy eating and physical activity at church; however, whether the influence of the church environment extends to other settings is unknown. 


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