ABSTRACT: Obesity and related chronic diseases are on the rise in the United States. At the same time, 69% of Americans are religious, while 40% attend church regularly. This study evaluated the health benefits of two different biblically-based health promotion programs offered through rural and metropolitan churches with varying resources. Participants in both programs experienced weight loss and positive health changes, supporting that churches can be an effective way to promote health in America.
Can churches promote health and impact the rising problem of obesity and chronic illness?
Debra Whisenant, PhD, MSN, MSPH, RN, is an associate professor at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama. She completed a NRSA Fellowship in Outcomes Research at University of Alabama Birmingham's Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education.
Cyndi Cortes, DrPH, CPNP-PC, RN, is an associate professor and a clinical coordinator in the family nurse practitioner program at Samford University. She is very active in mission activities at her church and promoting healthy lifestyles in local and international communities.
John Hill, PhD, is a senior policy analyst at the Alabama Policy Institute in Birmingham. His research interests include international mission work and spirituality in health promotion.
Debra Whisenant is married to the senior minister at one of the churches involved in this research. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to report.
Accepted by peer-review 4/15/2013.