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Ethn Dis. 2001 Fall;11(4):817-22.

Efficacy of a church-based intervention on cardiovascular risk reduction.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Lighten Up, a church-based lifestyle program, was developed in collaboration with the Christian community to decrease cardiovascular risk through lifestyle modification. One goal has been to reach the medically under-served in North Carolina and South Carolina. Lighten Up includes a baseline health check (week 1), eight educational sessions (weeks 2-9) combining study of scripture and health messages, a short-term health check (week 10), and a long-term health check (1 year). Baseline and 10-week data obtained for 381 participants (66% Black, 83% women, and a mean of 55 years of age) at 24 sites form the basis of this report. One-year data were obtained in a subgroup of 163 participants (64% Black, 82% women, and a mean of 57 years of age). At baseline, participants had the following significant modifiable risk factors for heart disease: obesity (73%); high blood pressure (55%); high cholesterol (48%); and diabetes (19%). Participants exhibited significant short-term reductions in weight and systolic blood pressure, which were sustained throughout the year. Half or more sessions were attended by 70% of participants. Participants who attended more of the sessions had the greatest reductions in risk factors. Whites appear to have greater reductions in risk factors than did Blacks. However, Lighten Up is reaching both Blacks and Whites with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, and short- and long-term improvements are being made.

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