Weight loss and improved metabolic outcomes amongst rural African American women in the Deep South: six-month outcomes from a community-based randomized trial.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Obesity is highly prevalent in African American women, especially those in the rural southern USA, resulting in persistent health disparities.

OBJECTIVE

To test the effectiveness of an evidence-based behavioural weight loss intervention delivered by community health advisors to African American women in the rural south.

DESIGN AND METHODS

Overweight or obese African American women (30-70 years) from eight counties in Mississippi and Alabama participated in a 24-month randomized controlled trial of an evidence-based behavioural weight loss programme augmented with community strategies to support healthy lifestyles (Weight Loss Plus, N = 154) compared to the weight loss programme alone (Weight Loss Only, N = 255). This study reports on 6-month outcomes on primary (weight change) and secondary (waist circumference, blood pressure, lipids, fasting blood glucose) outcomes, coinciding with the completion of the intensive weight loss phase.

RESULTS

Weight Loss Only participants lost an average of 2.2 kg (P < 0.001). Weight Loss Plus participants lost an average of 3.2 kg (P < 0.001). The proportion of the total sample that lost at least 5% of their body weight was 27.1% with no difference between treatment groups. Similarly, we observed statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, waist circumference and triglycerides in each treatment group, with no statistical differences between groups.

CONCLUSION

Trained lay health staff and volunteers from the rural southern USA were able to deliver a translation of a high-intensity behavioural intervention targeted to African American women, resulting in clinically meaningful weight loss and improvement in other metabolic outcomes in a significant proportion of participants.

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