HealthDay News — A medium-intensity behavioral intervention that focuses on maintaining rather than losing weight is effective for preventing weight gain among overweight and obese black women, researchers found.

After one year of follow-up, patients in the intervention group had a mean weight loss of more than 2 pounds compared with continued weight gain in the usual care control group, and significantly more patients in the intervention group were below their baseline weight, Gary G. Bennett, PhD, from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Previous studies on weight-loss interventions have consistently shown smaller, less clinically significant weight loss among black women, suggesting the need for new approaches to weight management in this population.

Continue Reading

To examine the efficacy of a weight gain prevention strategy, Bennett and colleagues enrolled 194 overweight and class 1 obese (body mass index, 25 to 34.9 kg/m²) black women aged 25 to 44 years at community health clinics to participate in either the Shape Program or usual care.

The Shape Program consisted of five components: tailored behavior modification goals, weekly self-monitoring by interactive voice response, 12 monthly counseling calls with a registered dietitian, tailored skills training material and a 12-month YMCA membership.

The primary outcome was weight change and BMI at 12 months. Weight maintenance at 18 months was also evaluated. Mean participant age was 35 years, mean baseline weight was 178 pounds and mean baseline BMI was 30.2. Annual income was <$30,000 for three-fourths of participants.

At 12 months, the researchers found that the intervention group had a mean weight versus baseline that was 3.1 pounds lower compared with the usual-care group (95% CI: -6.2 to -0.2, P=0.04). Significantly more women in the intervention group were at or below their baseline weights at 12 months (62% vs. 45%, P=0.03).

At 18 months, the intervention group maintained significantly larger changes in weight, with the between-group difference increasing to -3.7 pounds (95% CI -7.3 to -0.4).

“These results provide some much-needed evidence to inform discussions about preventing weight gain in populations at high risk for the health consequences of obesity,” former U.S. Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA,  and colleagues wrote in an accompanying editorial.

“Although clinical interventions are important to prevent weight gain in adults and reduce weight in obese adults, we also need effective strategies throughout the lifespan to prevent obesity and its comorbid conditions, as seen at baseline by Bennett et al. Clinical approaches targeted to high-risk patients and public health approaches aimed at reducing risk in the population are important,” they wrote.


  1. Bennett GG et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9263.
  2. Benjamin RM et al. JAMA Intern Med 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7776.