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.
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