Despite increased attention to minority health needs, African American men have higher rates of developing and dying from many diseases associated with unhealthy eating and physical inactivity when compared to white men, white women and African American women. Unfortunately, much of what we know about African American health, including strategies considering culture when targeting healthy eating and physical activity, is based predominately on programs conducted with African American women. This is a significant limitation because well documented, gender-specific differences in dietary health and physical activity highlight the relevance of gender as a determinant of health behavior. Thus, if we are to adequately address the health needs of African American men, both culture and gender must be considered when developing and implementing strategies to increase their healthy eating and physical activity.
The aim of this proposal is to develop and test gendered, culturally and contextually relevant messages that will be used in a future, web- based tailored intervention to increase healthy eating and physical activity in African American men. A tailored intervention - that is, an intervention customized to the unique preferences, interests and contexts of individual African American men - may be more engaging than an intervention targeted to African American men as a population group in part, because it may be deemed more personally relevant. In addition, by addressing multiple health behaviors - healthy eating and physical activity - this study reflects the fact that most U.S. adults engage in 2 or more unhealthy behaviors, which puts them at the greatest risks for chronic disease, disability, and premature death. Addressing multiple behavior changes increases the real-world applicability of this research and enhances the chances to uncover common mechanisms of health behavior and unique mechanisms for health behavior change. Our proposed study includes 3 phases: (1) formative research to refine our understanding of gendered, cultural and environmental determinants of healthy eating and physical activity;(2) develop tailored health messages to promote healthy eating and physical activity for African American men;and (3) test and refine the messages to yield a bank of messages for use in future, tailored health promotion interventions to promote healthy eating and physical activity for African American men. Upon completion, we will be well positioned to implement an R01 for a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of the tailored messages in a web-based intervention to improve African American men's healthy eating and physical activity.

Public Health Relevance

Project Narrative The proposed study is designed to develop and test messages tailored to increase healthy eating (HE) and physical activity (PA) among African American men by attending to gendered, cultural and environmental determinants of these health behaviors. The study includes three phases: (1) formative research using in- depth interviews with African American men stratified by age and levels of HE and PA to identify key determinants and mediating factors of HE and PA;(2) develop gendered, culturally and contextually relevant tailored health messages to educate and motivate African American men to engage in HE and PA;and (3) test and refine the messages, yielding a bank of tailored messages for use in future health promotion interventions promoting HE and PA among African American men.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section (HDEP)
Program Officer
Hunter, Christine
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Public Health
Ann Arbor
United States
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