A preliminary test of a motivational and parenting weight loss program targeting low-income and minority adolescents

Heather Kitzman-Ulrich, Dawn K. Wilson, Sara M. St. George, Michelle Segal, Elizabeth Schneider, Kassandra Kugler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Effective and brief weight loss programs are needed for underserved (low-income, ethnic minority) populations; therefore, this study evaluated a novel motivational and parenting weight loss intervention that targeted underserved families. Methods: This pilot study employed a prospective randomized test of a brief family-based weight loss program to assess feasibility and changes in health outcomes. Twenty families each with an overweight adolescent (mean age = 12.9 ± 1.4; 70% female, mean BMI = 33.7 ± 5.3 and BMI percentile = 98.5 ± 1.5; 65% African American) participated in the study. Families were randomized to either a motivational plus family weight loss intervention (M + FWL) or a basic health (BH) education program consisting of 6 weekly group sessions. This study assessed changes from baseline to 6-week post intervention in adolescent BMI, BMI z-score, dietary variables measured with three 24-hr food recalls, autonomous motivation for physical activity and diet, and positive parenting variables. Results: Adolescents in the M + FWL intervention significantly improved their intake of daily fruit servings (p < 0.05), motivation for diet (p < 0.01), and physical activity (p < 0.05) compared with the BH group. There was also a trend toward greater reduction in adolescent BMI z-score (p = 0.08), and total fat intake (p < 0.06). The M + FWL intervention exhibited high attendance rates (>90%) and participant satisfaction ratings. Conclusion: This 6-week program demonstrated high retention rates and improvements in adolescent health behaviors, providing preliminary support for a brief motivational and parenting weight loss program for underserved families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-384
Number of pages6
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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