The Delta Health Alliance

Body and Soul

Project: Delta Body and Soul (Project #2)

Partner: USDA/ARS

This project’s goals were to adapt, implement, and evaluate a church based, culturally-appropriate, intervention designed to improve dietary and physical activity habits among African Americans residing in Mississippi Delta. The Delta Body and Soul project was based upon an existing church-based diet intervention from the National Cancer Institute called Body and Soul, which was proven effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among participants. Similar to the original Body and Soul, the adapted project featured a combination of education, social support, and peer-counseling administered largely by trained lay church members. While the original curriculum focused specifically on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, the adapted curriculum also included increasing whole grains and decreasing intake of fat, sodium and added sugar. Delta Body and Soul engaged 21 churches (12 intervention and 9 control) in the Mississippi Delta region between the years 2009 and 2012. Participant demographic, health, clinical, psychosocial, dietary, and physical activity behaviors were assessed at baseline and at 6 months follow-up. Intervention church participants received 6 months of nutrition and fitness education, helped improve the nutrition environment at their church, received peer counseling sessions, and engaged in a physical activity program. At the end of 6 months, significant improvements in diet quality and increased physical activity were observed in the intervention participants. Hence the results of Delta Body and Soul suggest that a church-based, culturally adapted diet and physical activity intervention can improve diet quality and increase physical activity of rural, African American adults residing in the Mississippi Delta.  However, key components to the success of such programs include participant attendance at the education sessions and access to transportation.  Results of the Delta Body and Soul project have been reported in the following papers.

  1. Tussing-Humphreys LM, Thomson, JL, Onufrak SJ. A church-based pilot study designed to improve dietary quality for rural, lower Mississippi Delta, African American adults. Journal of Religion & Health 2014; DOI:
  2. Thomson JL, Zoellner JM, Tussing-Humphreys LM. Psychosocial predictors of diet and physical activity in African-Americans: Results from the Delta Body and Soul effectiveness trial, 2010-2011. American Journal of Health Promotion 2014;28(3):e81-e91. DOI:
  3. Tussing-Humphreys L, Thomson JL, Mayo T, Edmond E. A church-based diet and physical activity intervention for rural, lower Mississippi Delta African American adults: Delta Body and Soul effectiveness study, 2010-2011. Preventing Chronic Disease 2013;10:120286. DOI: