A Small-Changes Weight Loss Programfor African-American Church Members

Health Behav Policy Rev. 2020 Jul;7(4):279-291. doi: 10.14485/HBPR.7.4.2.


Objective: To test whether a previously tested, small-changes weight loss program could be translated for use in African American churches.

Methods: The program consisted of 12 group sessions held weekly at a partner church. Key intervention messages were disseminated via Facebook. A single-arm pretest-posttest evaluation included assessments at baseline, program completion (3-month), and after three months with no contact (6-month).

Results: Participants (N = 17; 16 women, age 57.5±12.1 years, body mass index 36.5 kg/m2±5.4, hemoglobin A1c 6.3±0.5, blood pressure 132±14/82±7) attended an average of 77% (mdn=9) of treatment sessions and 94% and 100% completed the 3- and 6-month assessment visits. All participants reported they were "somewhat" or "very satisfied" with the program. There was minimal interaction with Facebook with an average of 0.5 comments and 3.9 reactions per post. Three- and six-month reductions (all p's≤.01) were observed for weight (mdn=-2.7 kg; mdn=-2.6 kg), waist circumference (mdn=-3.8cm; mdn=-5.1cm), and hemoglobin A1c (mdn=-0.5; mdn=-0.3). At 3-months, there were significant reductions in systolic (mdn=-10.7 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (mdn=-8.0) but not at 6 months.

Conclusions: This study suggests that a faith-based, faith-placed intervention utilizing a small-changes approach in African American churches may achieve sustained weight loss in parishioners with obesity.

Keywords: African American; Faith-based; Weight loss.