The Weight-Wise Pilot Study tests the effectiveness of weight control intervention strategies designed for low income, midlife women enrolled in the WISEWOMAN Program. The behavioral intervention includes a 16-week weight loss phase of weekly group sessions and a 12-month weight maintenance phase of individual, group, and phone contacts.
Topic area(s): Health Disparities; Obesity Prevention and Control; Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention; Women, Children and Minorities


The primary purpose of the study is to assess the effectiveness of a 16-week behavioral weight loss program among low income, midlife women at a community health center.

Project Description

Low income women in the U.S. have the highest rates of overweight/obesity, putting them at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Health care systems serving lower income communities need effective weight loss programs that meet the needs of this high risk group.  The Weight-Wise Pilot Study tests the effectiveness of a behavioral weight loss and weight loss maintenance program among WISEWOMAN participants at a community health center in Wilmington, North Carolina. Women with a BMI of 25-45, and no contraindications to weight loss or moderate intensity physical activity (PA), were recruited and enrolled in a randomized controlled trial comparing the intervention to a wait-listed control group. The behavioral intervention program, adapted from the Diabetes Prevention Program approach, consisted of a 16-week weight loss phase and a 12-month weight loss maintenance phase. The weight loss phase consisted of weekly group sessions held at a community church, and emphasized 9+ daily fruit and vegetable servings, moderate caloric restrictions, 150 minutes/week of PA, and lifestyle behavior change through self-monitoring, feedback, problem-solving, and goal-setting. Participants who completed the weight loss phase and lost 8 or more pounds were eligible to continue in the maintenance intervention phase which included a series of individual, phone, and group session contacts.

The study sample included 143 women (71 in the intervention and 72 controls) who were on average 53 years of age, with an average BMI of 35. Half had diagnosed hypertension, 13% diabetes, and 36% hyperlipidemia. Average session attendance was 65% (median of 14 sessions attended); 88% (126/143) completed follow-up weight measurement. The between group difference in weight loss was 9.5 lb (4.3 kg) (p < .0001), and over half in the intervention group lost 8 or more pounds. These findings suggest that programs appropriately designed for low income women and implemented through community partnerships can effectively promote weight loss.


  • Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dates of funding: June 30, 2004 – June 29, 2008
  • Current Status: Disseminated

Key Contacts

Principal Investigator: Carmen Samuel-Hodge, PhD

Project Director/Manager: Beverly Garcia,


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