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Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More

Evidence Summary

Underlying Logic or Theory:  Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More incorporates multiple levels of the socio-ecological (S-E) model.

Strategies Used1FFESMM applies several evidence-based intervention strategies:

  • Social support for healthy eating: Each participating faith community has lay leaders who provide social support for healthy eating. The lay leader is someone to whom others in the community naturally turn when they need help and support. Part of the lay leader’s training involves connecting health information with faith-based practices, scripture and beliefs. Social support strategies are used in combination with other strategies; in FFESMM, they are part of a comprehensive nutrition program that allows for families to come together in a group setting.Faith communities employ techniques regularly used in social network-based interventions, including group-oriented goal setting, problem solving, discussion, and opportunities for healthy eating.
  • Social support for physical activity: Each participating faith community has lay leaders who provide social support for physical activity. The lay leader is someone to whom others in the community naturally turn when they need help and support.  Part of the lay leader’s training involves connecting health information with faith-based practices, scripture and beliefs. Social support strategies are used in combination with other strategies; in FFESMM, they are part of a comprehensive nutrition program that allows for families to come together in a group setting.Faith communities employ techniques regularly used in social network-based interventions, including group-oriented goal setting, problem solving, discussion, and opportunities for physical activity.
  • Comprehensive nutrition programs in single setting: Comprehensive nutrition programs include multiple intervention strategies targeting healthy eating and related outcomes. They focus on a single setting, e.g. a faith community, which distinguishes them from community-wide campaigns for healthy eating which are multi-sectoral in nature. Comprehensive nutrition programs include components targeting knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills at the individual level, while other components focus on improving supports for healthy eating at the interpersonal and organizational levels. At the individual level, FFESMM provides nutrition classes and health assessments; at the organizational and environmental levels, it promotes policy change.
  • Changing access and availability to favor healthy foods and beverages: FFESMM’s approach to increasing the availability of healthy foods in faith communities is derived from an organization’s capacity to adopt policies aimed at increasing the number and/or types of healthy food and beverage items when they are served. Options for policy changes within the faith community include developing and implementing policies on the availability of healthy foods and beverages and training food preparers (volunteers or staff) to make existing menu items healthier.
  • Increasing access to and number of places for physical activity: Through policies for mapping out walking routes or designating recreational space free of charge to faith community members, FFESMM allows those faith communities who are able to provide more accessibility of places or facilities for physical activity. When combined with informational or social support strategies, this can be an effective way to increase physical activity and improve other physical activity-related outcomes.

Evaluation Outcomes: The FFESMM Leadership Team has evaluated both processes and outcomes of the intervention. Process evaluation includes tracking attendance at all educational sessions and conducting focus groups with program participants and faith community leaders. Two surveys are administered at the beginning and end of each program year to assess intervention effects on individuals, environments, and policies.  

In a pilot program of the intervention conducted in Harnett County, four faith communities completed the intervention and 59 of their members attended group sessions.  A pre- and post-intervention survey of those who attended group sessions found improvements in dietary intake, dietary behaviors and physical activity. Of the 59 graduates from the FFESMM sessions, 43% increased fruit consumption; 47% increased vegetable consumption; and 35% increased the amount of their physical activity.

As of July 2010, 24 of the 35 (68.6%) faith communities participating in the FFESMM intervention across four counties had completed all elements of the program. All participating communities completed a Faith Community Health Assessment at both the start and end of the intervention year.  Data collected using the assessment tool documented the number and type of new environment and policy changes implemented by each faith community. The results included the implementation of 14 Eat Smart policies, nine Move More policies, and five environmental change policies. Twenty-three of the 24 faith communities have enacted multiple policies.



1 A full description of the intervention strategies used can be found here with references to the sources of evidence to support the strategies