Keeping the faith: USC partners with AME churches to improve health

An important part of FAN included 
the training of cooks who were 
involved in church nutrition 
programs and meals

USC PRC Investigator Dr. Sara Wilcox Reports on the Findings of the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Program

Old habits die hard, especially when they’re part of a Sunday tradition. But some African-American churchgoers in South Carolina are finding that change can be a good thing when it comes to eating better and staying active.

As part of a project led by USC’s Arnold School of Public Health, 74 African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches participated in a program to help members lead healthier lifestyles through increased physical activity and healthier food choices. Researchers worked in partnership with AME church leaders and members to design and implement the Faith, Activity and Nutrition (FAN) program and trained church leaders to incorporate it into their congregations.

The five-year project was funded with a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and also included researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Allen University. It found that members from trained churches were more likely to engage in physical activity and eat more fruits and vegetables than members from churches that did not undergo the training. Approximately 1,250 members participated in the study and more than half had two or more chronic diseases. The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

 Visit to view a video about the FAN program. Read more about the study on the Association of Schools of Public Health, the Arnold School of Public Health, and the University of South Carolina.