African Americans in Standard Behavioral Treatment for Obesity, 2001-2015: What Have We Learned?

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African Americans (AAs) bear a disproportionate burden of the obesity epidemic, yet have historically been underrepresented in weight loss research. We conducted a narrative review of large (N > 75) randomized prospective clinical trials of standard behavioral treatment for weight loss that reported results in the past 15 years (2001-2015) to (a) determine the rates of inclusion and reported results for AAs and (b) further identify strategies that may result in improved outcomes. Of the 23 trials reviewed, 69.6% of the studies met or exceeded population estimates for AAs in the United States. However, only 10 reported outcomes and/or considered race in the analytic approach. At 6 months, AA participants consistently lost less weight than White participants. The use of culturally tailored intervention materials and monthly personal telephone calls were reported as factors that may have enhanced treatment response. Future behavioral weight loss trials should also increase reporting of outcomes by race.

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