African Americans, especially women, have higher obesity rates than the general US population. Because of the importance of faith to many African Americans, faith-based organizations (FBOs) may be effective venues for delivering health messages and promoting adoption of healthy behaviours. This article systematically reviews interventions targeting weight and related behaviours in faith settings. We searched literature published through July 2012 for interventions in FBOs targeting weight loss, diet and/or physical activity (PA) in African Americans. Of 27 relevant articles identified, 12 were randomized controlled trials; seven of these reported a statistically significant change in an outcome. Four of the five quasi-experimental and single-group design studies reported a statistically significant outcome. All 10 pilot studies reported improvement in at least one outcome, but most did not have a comparison group. Overall, 70% of interventions reported success in reducing weight, 60% reported increased fruit and vegetable intake and 38% reported increased PA. These results suggest that interventions in African American FBOs can successfully improve weight and related behaviours. However, not all of the findings about the success of certain approaches were as expected. This review identifies gaps in knowledge and recommends more rigorous studies be conducted to strengthen the comparative methodology and evidence.
- African Americans
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health