Talk about faith-based initiatives. A new study found that taking a church-based weight loss program helped its participants keep off the pounds.

In the study, leaders from the Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church near Augusta, Georgia, received a two-day training on the 12 modules of Fit Body and Soul, a faith-based diabetes prevention regimen adapted from the U.S. National Institute of Health-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program. The leaders then conducted a church-weight loss program that included 35 male and female participants. Of those, 16 lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight and about 26 percent lost 7 percent or more. Also, 11 out of 16 participants who lost weight in the initial 12-week program maintained their weight after taking part in six-month-long follow-up sessions.

“This kind of result is remarkable in a faith-based program run by lay leaders when so many other community-based programs have failed,” says principal investigator Sunita Dodani, MD, associate professor at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City.  

Can we get an “Amen”?