The exploration and evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of a religious weight management programme

  • Riya Patel

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Obesity treatment is a global priority. Current approaches to treating obesity have demonstrated good efficacy but the obesity epidemic continues to escalate. Holistic approaches which include a religious element are a promising intervention within obesity, as demonstrated by research conducted in the USA, but are yet to be explored in the UK.
    A mixed-methods feasibility trial with two embedded qualitative studies to
    investigate the feasibility and acceptability of a 3-month Christian, church-based, intuitive-eating programme.
    A total of 18 participants were recruited, attendance during the programme
    peaked and troughed. It was feasible to recruit and train lay facilitators to deliver
    intervention sessions. Qualitative evidence exploring facilitators’ experiences
    showed they were able to facilitate the sessions, but facilitating was not always
    easy. Facilitators experienced challenges associated with managing difficult group members, and the range of issues that can arise during group discussions.
    Qualitative evidence exploring participants’ experiences showed the two novel
    components; Christian spirituality and intuitive eating took participants on a
    journey. None of the participants had ever thought of bringing God into their
    eating, but as participants started surrendering their struggles with food to God,
    their faith became an invaluable resource for their weight loss journey. Similarly,
    the intuitive eating component was initially difficult to understand. However, as
    participants learned to incorporate the principles of intuitive eating into their daily lives, the negative emotions associated with food were reduced. Post-intervention all participants felt ready to move forward into the next stage of their weight loss journey.
    10 Significant improvements were observed in mental well-being, anxiety, depression, quality-of-life, pain/discomfort uncontrolled-eating, emotional-eating, cognitivere strained-eating, intuitive-eating and BMI post-intervention. By 6-month followup there was a return to baseline levels for weight, BMI, energy intake, and a partial reversal in uncontrolled eating, emotional eating, cognitive restrained eating, anxiety, depression, mental well-being and spiritual well-being. However, improvements in intuitive eating were fully sustained at this time point and total fat, saturated fat and sugar intake had reduced further.
    It was feasible to recruit, deliver and evaluate Taste & See in a UK church, with lay volunteers. The intervention was acceptable to both facilitators and participants and qualitative evidence showed good engagement with the content. The clinical outcomes were positive but a larger RCT is needed to demonstrate efficacy

    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorDeborah Lycett (Supervisor), Anne Coufopoulos (Supervisor) & Andy Turner (Supervisor)


    • obesity
    • weight
    • religion
    • church-based
    • faith-based
    • Christian
    • intervention
    • feasibility trial
    • mixed-methods

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