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Families Improving Together (FIT) For Weight Loss


The increasing rate of obesity has become a major public health concern in the United States. Recent reports indicate that 40% of African American adolescents are considered overweight or obese. Although effective lifestyle approaches for weight loss have been demonstrated in Caucasian youth, little is known about effective weight loss interventions in ethnic minority adolescents.

In part, this is because research has shown that ethnic minorities attend fewer intervention sessions, have higher attrition rates and lose less weight compared to Caucasians. Two fundamental problems related to this lack of progress are addressed in this proposal and include 1) the lack of appropriate content of weight loss interventions for African American adolescents that integrate cultural issues, parenting skills, and motivational strategies for increasing long-term change and, 2) the poor dose of weight loss interventions because of participant fatigue, drop out and barriers faced by underserved families.

The goal of this project is to conduct a randomized controlled efficacy trial to address the problems with past intervention studies by 1) making the face-to-face group intervention shorter, 2) using an on-line program to compliment the group-based intervention for increasing dose, and by 3) tailoring a motivational and parenting skills program directly to parents' and adolescents' skill levels and cultural background.


Aim 1: To determine the efficacy of a brief 8-week face-to-face group motivation plus family program versus a basic health program on decreasing z-BMI in overweight African American adolescents at post- group intervention (8 weeks).

Aim 2: To determine the efficacy of an 8-week on-line intervention vs. control on-line program that extends the dose of the group intervention on reducing z-BMI at post-on-line intervention (16-weeks) in overweight African American adolescents.

Aim 3: To determine whether the intervention effects on reducing z-BMI in overweight African American are maintained at a 6-month follow-up. It is hypothesized the adolescents in the 8-week motivation plus family group plus 8-week on-line intervention program will show the greatest maintenance in z-BMI reductions.


The proposed project targets underserved African-American families who have an overweight adolescent (>=85th percentile) in Columbia, South Carolina. Families are  recruited through community partners, including pediatric clinics, community centers, and local schools. The study plans to enroll 520 families.