Delivering a childhood obesity prevention intervention using Islamic religious settings in the UK: what is most important to the stakeholders?

Childhood Obesity Prevention in Islamic Religious Settings Programme Management Group

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Ten per cent of the childhood population in the UK are of South Asian (SA) origin. Within this population, over 40% are living with overweight or obesity. The majority of SA children are Muslim and attend Islamic religious settings (IRS) daily after school. Because of their reach and influence, IRS may be an appropriate channel for obesity prevention initiatives. We conducted 20 in-depth interviews with parents of children attending IRS, 20 with Islamic leaders, and 3 focus group discussions with 26 managers and workers of IRS in Bradford and Birmingham. Topic guides were developed, interviews and focus group discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically. Muslim parents, Islamic leaders and IRS staff were supportive of the delivery of obesity prevention interventions for children using IRS. Participants identified important components of an intervention including: Prophet Muhammad as a role model for healthy lifestyle; healthy diet, physical activity, and organisational behaviour change within IRS. Participants suggested that Islamic narrative on healthy diet and physical fitness could increase delivery uptake. Staff showed willingness to conduct physical activity sessions for boys and girls. Barriers for the intervention delivery were poor funding systems and time constraints for staff. All participant groups thought that it would be possible to deliver a childhood obesity prevention intervention. Interventions should be co-designed, culturally and religiously sensitive and combine the scientific guidelines on healthy living with Islamic narrative on importance of healthy diet consumption and physical activity.

Keywords: Islamic religious settings, mosque and madrassa, childhood obesity prevention, intervention design and delivery, health and religion, intervention acceptability, British Muslims
Original languageEnglish
Article number101387
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Early online date24 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • British Muslims
  • Childhood obesity prevention
  • Health and religion
  • Intervention acceptability
  • Intervention design and delivery
  • Islamic religious settings
  • Mosque and madrassa


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