Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Public Health


Background - Lower socioeconomic status at both the individual and neighborhood level is associated with increased health risks. Weight loss can reduce this risk, but few high quality weight loss studies target this population.

Objectives - STARS tests a culturally-appropriate, group-based behavioral and social support intervention on body weight and waist circumference in women from financially disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Design - A stratified (by BMI) randomized trial. Randomization to group was generated by a random numbers table with allocation concealment by opaque envelopes.

Methods - Participants 25-50 years who had a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 and a waist circumference ≥ 88 cm were recruited from 18 census tracts in Columbia, SC with high rates of poverty between November 2008 and November 2010. All participants received a dietary and exercise counseling session. Intervention participants then receive 16 theoretically-based and tailored weekly group sessions followed by 8 weeks of telephone maintenance counseling. Control participants receive 16 weekly health education mailings. Measurements correspond to baseline, post-group intervention, and post-telephone counseling, and for intervention participants, after a 12-week no-contact period. Measurement staff was blinded to group assignment.

Results - Participants (N=155; n=80 intervention, n=75 minimal intervention control) were primarily African American (86.5%) and averaged 38.9 years with a mean BMI of 40.1 kg/m2 and waist circumference of 115.4 cm. Food insecurity was reported by 43% of participants.

Summary - STARS targeted an underserved population with an innovative, tailored, and theoretically-grounded, group-based intervention followed by telephone maintenance. If effective, the approach has the potential to be feasible and cost-effective for community delivery.

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