Background: There is an increasing need to adapt and use community interventions to address modifiable behaviors that lead to poor health outcomes, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Poor health outcomes can be tied to community-level factors, such as food deserts and individual behaviors, like sedentary lifestyles, consuming large portion sizes, and eating high-calorie fast food and processed foods. Methods: Through a social ecological approach with family, organization and community, the Faithful Families Cooking and Eating Smart and Moving for Health (FFCESMH) intervention was created to address these concerns in a rural South Carolina community. FFCESMH used gatekeepers to identify 18 churches and four apartment complexes in low-income areas; 176 participants completed both pre- and post-survey measures. Results: Paired t-test measures found statistically significant change in participant perception of food security (0.39, p-value = 0.005, d = 0.22), self-efficacy with physical activity and healthy eating (0.26, p-value = 000, d = 0.36), and cooking confidence (0.17, p-value = 0.01, d = 0.19). There was not significant change in cooking behaviors, as assessed through the Cooking Behaviors Scale. Conclusion: FFCESMH shows that a social ecological approach can be effective at increasing and improving individual healthy behaviors and addressing community-level factors in low-income rural communities.
Published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 15, Issue 9, 2018.
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