Short-term impact of a church-based approach to lifestyle change on cardiovascular risk in African Americans

Academic Article


  • While lifestyle modification decreases cardiovascular risk, there are barriers to lifestyle education in usual clinical practice, especially among the medically underserved. To address this gap, "Lighten Up," a church-based lifestyle program was developed in collaboration with the local African-American Christian community. Lighten Up includes a baseline health assessment (week 1), eight educational sessions (weeks 2-9) combining study of scripture and a health message, a short-term health check (week 10) and a long-term health check (week 52). Baseline and 10 week risk factor data have been obtained in 133 African Americans from eight sites (83% women) and form the basis of this report. At baseline, 76% of participants had two or more modifiable risk factors (overweight, hypertension, borderline high cholesterol, or diabetes). The entire group had significant short-term reductions in weight (-2.3 pounds, P < .01), mean blood pressure (BP, -2.1 mm Hg, P < .05), and triglycerides (-11 mg/dl, P < .05). Risk factor improvement was greater among the 60 subjects who attended 75% or more of the educational sessions. In this group, weight fell 2.9 ± 0.6 pounds (mean ± SEM; P < .01), mean BP declined 3.8 ± 1.2 mm Hg (P < .01), total cholesterol was lowered 6 ± 4 mg/ dl (P = .12), and triglycerides were reduced 17 ± 9 mg/dl (P = .05). Lighten Up is reaching a group with multiple cardiovascular risk factors that is not optimally managed by existing healthcare resources. Of the 133 participants, 70% attended half or more of the sessions, and several components of the risk factor cluster were favorably affected. (Ethn Dis. 2000;10:17-23).
  • Author List

  • Oexmann MJ; Thomas JC; Taylor KB; O'Neil PM; Garvey WT; Lackland DT; Egan BM
  • Start Page

  • 17
  • End Page

  • 23
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 1