University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center

Faith, Activity, and Nutrition: Dissemination in Underserved Communities


Churches often function as trusted sources of information for many community members. Like worksites and schools, churches can offer good opportunities for promoting physical activity and dietary change. Many Americans report a formal religious affiliation (84 percent), with even higher rates among African Americans (88 percent) and those in the South (87 percent). Thus, churches have great potential for reaching groups that experience marked health disparities, including racial minorities and rural populations.

The University of South Carolina (Columbia) Prevention Research Center (USC PRC) will study the distribution and application of the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FAN) program in South Carolina churches to increase leisure-time physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. The USC PRC will work with 60 churches in a medically underserved and rural county in South Carolina in partnership with Fairfield Behavioral Health Services and Fairfield Community Health Partners. USC’s PRC will also work with two large denominations (United Methodist and State Baptist Education & Missionary Convention) to study the distribution and application of FAN state-wide. FAN will target environmental, systems, and policy changes within churches to create a church environment supportive of physical activity and healthy eating.

The specific aims are to: 1) examine the adoption and reach of FAN in churches and organizational factors associated with adoption; 2) characterize implementation fidelity and multilevel factors associated with implementation; 3) describe organizational maintenance of FAN and factors associated with maintenance; and 4) study the effectiveness of FAN.  While many physical activity and healthy eating interventions target change at the individual level, FAN targets environmental and systems change in the church. With this project, the USC PRC seeks to gain a greater understanding of how local coalitions can reach faith-based communities as settings for interventions.  By studying the application of FAN and factors that influence application of the program, researchers will learn about the facilitators of and impediments to adoption, implementation, and maintenance. 

Project Identifier Faith, Activity, and Nutrition: Dissemination in Underserved Communities

Funding Source PRC Program

Project Status Active

Host Institution University of South Carolina (Columbia)

Health Topics Physical activity | Nutrition

Research setting Church or religious organization

Race or ethnicity African Americans and Caucasians

Gender No specific focus

Age group Young adults (18-24 years) | Adults (25-49 years) | Older adults (50 years and older)

Contact Information Center

University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center 
921 Assembly Street 
Public Health Research Center, 1st Floor 
Columbia, SC 29208

Principal Investigator
Sara Wilcox, PhD

PRC Director
Sara Wilcox
Phone: (803) 777-8141