Enrolling in a weight loss program with a family member or friend appears to enhance weight loss among African Americans, but only if the involved partner attends sessions frequently or also loses weight, according to a report in the October 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Obesity and its cardiovascular complications affect many African Americans, according to background information in the article. Standard behavioral treatments for obesity appear to be less successful in African Americans than in whites. Cultural modifications to these standard programs-such as the inclusion of family members and support networks-may enhance their effectiveness. Shiriki K. Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, professor of Epidemiology at the School of Medicine; Tom Wadden, PhD, Penn Medicine professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders; Marjorie A. Bowman, MD, professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, and colleagues, conducted a two-year trial of a culturally specific weight loss program among 344 African American men and women. The goal was to achieve and maintain a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss. Components of the program included counseling that encouraged self-monitoring of food intake and physical activity, distribution of pedometers, group sessions involving weight and activity checks and skill building, and community-based field workshops such as cooking demonstrations and gym visits.
For more information about the study, view the news release from the Archives of Internal Medicine.