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Drs. Carmen Samuel-Hodge, Candice L. Alick (UNC), and Shiriki Kumanyika (UPenn) will  continue their work promoting healthy lifestyles among Black families. This study will optimize a behavioral weight loss intervention for Black adult family pairs or dyads.

Headshots of Carmen Samuel-Hodge, Candice L. Alick, and Shiriki Kumanyika
Drs. Carmen Samuel-Hodge (left), Candice Alick (middle), and Shiriki Kumanyika (right)

Black adults, especially women, in the U.S. have a lived experience that produces a higher prevalence of obesity than other racial or ethnic groups, placing them at higher risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Yet existing weight loss interventions that promote lifestyle changes are not optimized for Black adults. Samuel-Hodge and her research team are working to address this gap.

“We know that among Black adults, family interactions, caregiving and support are culturally valued, and we want to leverage these factors to improve their obesity treatment. We’re working to culturally adapt behavioral weight loss interventions for Black adults to promote positive interdependence among Black families toward achieving a healthier lifestyle,” said Samuel-Hodge, who is principal investigator of this study and co-principal investigator of the Center of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’s core research project.

“Though we know that much of the health disparities facing Black adults in the United States are rooted in structural racism, to promote healthier lifestyles we have chosen an asset-based approach by focusing on the family unit, which is an important aspect of Black culture” said Alick, research fellow and who will serve as a co-investigator and program manager.

Researchers on the team have previously developed and applied three weight loss intervention programs tailored to Black adults and families: Family PArtners in Lifestyle Support (PALS), Together Eating and Activity Matter (TEAM), and Supporting Health Activity and eating Right Everyday (SHARE). Samuel-Hodge’s (PALS) was the first family-centered weight loss intervention study conducted among African American adults with diabetes.

Past research into these interventions has found that involving family in healthy lifestyle changes can be beneficial for weight loss. This study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH, will optimize the PALS, TEAM, and SHARE approaches.

Researchers will recruit Black adult participants in family pairs, and each family dyad will receive a version of the core weight loss intervention. Through both quantitative and qualitative analyses, the study will measure the effectiveness of number of training sessions, in-person versus online delivery, inclusion of family communication and conflict skills training, and inclusion of family cohesion training.

“I applaud the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for recognizing the potential impact of family-centered research to improve the management of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the Black community,” said Samuel-Hodge. “This work is near and dear to my heart, and I am honored to support our participants as they move the needle toward healthier lifestyles.”

Drs. Heather Wasser, Thomas C. Keyserling, Erik Willis, and Anastasia Ivanova (UNC) and Kayla de la Haye (University of Southern California) each bring their expertise to the research study.


Carmen Samuel-Hodge, RD, PhD, is a research associate professor in the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Samuel-Hodge is also director of the evaluation core and co-principal investigator of the core research project for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP).

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