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A Small-Changes Weight Loss Program for African-American Church Members

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Objective: We examined 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 months), and after 3 months with no contact (6 months). 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% (median = 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 inter-action with Facebook with an average of 0.5 comments and 3.9 reactions per post. The 3- and 6-month reductions (all ps < .01) were observed for weight (median = -2.7 kg; median = -2.6 kg), waist circumference (median = -3.8cm; median = -5.1cm), and hemoglobin A1c (median = -0.5; median = -0.3). At 3 months, there were significant reductions in systolic (median = -10.7 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (median = -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.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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