Faith-based health interventions: Predictors of efficacy on weight outcomes: A systematic review

Adam S Nikah, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: In recent years particular attention has been given to faith-based health promotion interventions as an effective model for changing health behaviors related to obesity and other diseases. Previous literature has examined the efficacy of different types of health interventions in faith-placed settings or using faith-based material. However, this literature did not examine intervention predictors of weight loss success and did not look at the most recent literature. The objective of this paper is to examine and summarize the scientific literature regarding the effectiveness of intervention predictors on weight change outcomes across faith-based interventions. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using the databases Ovid Medline, PubMed, and PsychInfo. Intervention studies conducted in faith-based settings designed to improve weight status of participants were targeted. Inclusion criteria for article selection included 1) Faith-based or faith-placed, 2) Had a control group, 3) English language and conducted in the United States, 4) Study duration lasting more than one month, 5) Weight change measured as an outcome. Results: Of 10 studies meeting eligibility criteria four studies showing a positive effect presented an average of 3.47 kg. of weight loss post-treatment while the other six showed a null effect for weight loss. Positive effect studies, on average, featured 88.75% of predictors while null effect studies, on average, featured 63.83%. Two of four positive effect studies had all 11 predictors. In 8 of 10 articles reviewed the sample was comprised of a 100% African-American population. In the additional two studies, the samples were comprised of 23% and 90% African-Americans, respectively. The rest of the samples in these two studies were comprised of Caucasian participants. Conclusion: The findings of this literature review are mixed regarding the overall effectiveness of faith-based and/or faith-placed health interventions on weight loss. Faith-based health interventions can be successful in producing weight loss, but should look at developing well-rounded interventions to do so. It is important that these interventions consider using a community-based participatory research approach, train program facilitators, and feature physical activity, nutrition, and group support components to maximize weight loss results. The findings from this paper are most applicable for churches with predominantly African-American populations.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Nikah, Adam S, "Faith-based health interventions: Predictors of efficacy on weight outcomes: A systematic review" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1552478.