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Church Leaders’ Views of Obesity Prevention Efforts for Children and Youth

  • Author Footnotes
    † Dr Dunn was affiliated with the Prevention Research Center; and Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health at the time this study was completed.
    Caroline Glagola Dunn
    Correspondence
    Address for correspondence: Caroline Glagola Dunn, PhD, RD, Department of Health Policy Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
    Footnotes
    † Dr Dunn was affiliated with the Prevention Research Center; and Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health at the time this study was completed.
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Policy Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA
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  • Sara Wilcox
    Affiliations
    Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC

    Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
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  • John A. Bernhart
    Affiliations
    Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC

    Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
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  • Christine E. Blake
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
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  • Andrew T. Kaczynski
    Affiliations
    Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC

    Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
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  • Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
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  • Author Footnotes
    † Dr Dunn was affiliated with the Prevention Research Center; and Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health at the time this study was completed.
Published:October 30, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.09.019

      Abstract

      Objective

      To examine church leaders’ views on the role of faith-based organizations in promoting healthy eating and physical activity in children.

      Design

      Qualitative research using semi-structured in-depth interviews.

      Setting

      South Carolina.

      Participants

      Leaders (n = 26) from United Methodist churches (n = 20).

      Phenomenon of Interest

      Perceptions of health promotion efforts for children in faith-based settings, including primary health concerns, perceived opportunities, partnerships, and the relationship of these efforts to the overall church mission.

      Analysis

      Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded using a constant comparative method.

      Results

      Five themes emerged related to (1) multiple concerns about health issues facing children; (2) existing church structures influencing health behaviors; (3) potential partnerships to address children's health; (4) importance of role models; and (5) the need for a tailored approach.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Church leaders viewed childhood health behaviors as an important area of concern for the church and identified links between physical and spiritual health. They identified multiple existing and potential organizational and community structures as important in improving healthy eating and physical activity. Faith-based organizations can play an important role in developing and delivering health programming for children but desired assistance through partnerships with subject matter experts.

      Key Words

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