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The Shape Program: Community-based obesity prevention among black women

Project Objectives

This study hypothesizes that an intervention approach emphasizing weight maintenance, while preventing the transition to obesity, will resonate among the target population. Researchers are randomizing overweight, Black women to either usual care (UC) or an obesity prevention (OP) intervention condition.

The OP condition is comprised of intervention components that are being delivered over 12 months; each participant is receiving a tailored action plan, print materials, monthly coaching calls and weekly self-monitoring via an interactive voice response system. Assessments are taken at baseline, 6, 12 and 18-months post-baseline. The expected outcome is a change in body mass index (BMI) at 18-months. Recruitment of participants began in December 2009, among patients seen at the community health centers of Piedmont Health, Inc, and final follow-up visits were completed in October 2012.

Project Outcomes

Participants had a mean age of 35.4 years, a mean weight of 81.1 kg, and a mean body mass index of 30.2 at baseline. Most were socioeconomically disadvantaged (79.7% with educational level less than a college degree; 74.3% reporting annual income <$30000). The 12-month weight change was larger among intervention participants (mean [SD], 1.0 [0.5] kg), relative to usual care (0.5 [0.5] kg; mean difference, 1.4 kg [95% CI, 2.8 to 20.1 kg]; P=.04). At month 12, 62% of intervention participants were at or below their baseline weights compared with 45% of usual-care participants (P=.03). By 18 months, intervention participants maintained significantly larger changes in weight (mean difference, 1.7 kg; 95% CI, 3.3 to 20.2 kg).

Conclusions and Relevance:
A medium-intensity primary care based behavioral intervention demonstrated efficacy for weight gain prevention among socioeconomically disadvantaged black women. A maintain, don't gain approach might be a useful alternative treatment for reducing obesity-associated disease risk among some premenopausal black women.


Project Policy Impact Description

Data analysis is ongoing.


Department & School

Psychology and Neuroscience
Trinity College of Arts and Sciences



  • NIH-National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


  • Piedmont Health Services, Inc.
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston

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