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UCLA study of community health project shows how group dynamics affect fitness, eating habits

organizational wellness intervention originally developed by the local health department. The program provides training in incorporating physical activity and healthy food choices into the routine "conduct of business" in a variety of predominantly public and private, nonprofit agencies.

"Our goal is to increase life expectancy and improve quality of life for all ages by helping communities support programs that eliminate health disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities," said study co-author Lark Galloway-Gilliam, executive director of Community Health Councils. "The focus of the CHC Organizational Wellness Program is on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes within the African-American community, where CVD rates are 20 percent higher for black men and 40 percent higher for black women compared to their white counterparts. And blacks are 1.8 times as likely to have diabetes as whites."

UCLA examined the results of the CHC study of 35 organizations. More than 700 staff, members or clients--mostly overweight African-American women--within those organizations completed a 12-week or a six-week curriculum.

Among the findings contained in the UCLA analysis of the program:

  • Feelings of sadness or depression decreased significantly among 12-week participants; fruit and vegetable intake increased significantly and body mass index decreased marginally with the 12-week program, with no significant changes in these measures in the six-week group.
  • The number of days in which individuals participated in vigorous physical activity increased significantly among six-week participants but not in the 12-week group.
  • Attendance and retention rates between baseline and post-intervention assessment were quite low for the 12-week curriculum (30 percent to 37 percent retention) but substantially higher for the six-week offering (66 percent attendance and 60 percent to 92 percent retention).
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Source:University of California - Los Angeles


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