Objective: Childhood obesity disproportionately affects Hispanic children and youth in the United States, calling for innovative public health interventions. Due to Hispanics’ religious affiliation, faith-based communities present a viable platform for childhood obesity prevention. This study aimed to gain insights on Hispanic church-going youths’ perspective for designing healthy bodyweight programming for faith-based communities.
Methods: This qualitative study conducted nine focus groups with 56 youths aged 10 to 18 years from nine predominately Hispanic churches in Texas, USA. Using a semi-structured guide, the discussions were facilitated by trained moderators and audiotaped. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and inductively analyzed utilizing NVivo software. Member checking, debriefing, and team analysis approach were implored to enhance trustworthiness of findings.
Results: Participants perceived the connection between faith and health affirming that one’s body is God’s Temple. Church was viewed as a natural setting for supporting healthy lifestyle changes. Participants called for healthy food options and fun physical activities in conjunction with health education for congregants. Youth also identified facilitators (e.g. social support, role modeling and support from church), as well as barriers (e.g. culture, lack of money, bad neighborhoods and resistance to change) to successful program implementation.
Conclusion: Church is a promising setting for health promotion programming. Healthy Sunday school curriculum and church health environmental and policy changes, along with culturally appropriate, family-oriented health education and activities are potential strategies for childhood obesity prevention in Hispanic faith-community settings.
Wilmoth S, Martinez E, He M
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