The increasing rate of obesity has become a major public health concern with national reports indicating 40% of African American adolescents are now overweight or obese. Little is known about effective weight loss interventions in ethnic minority adolescents. In part, this is because research has shown that ethnic minorities attend fewer intervention sessions, have higher attrition rates and lose less weight compared to Caucasians. Two fundamental problems related to this lack of progress are 1) the lack of appropriate content of weight loss interventions for African American adolescents that integrate cultural issues, parenting skills, and motivational strategies for long-term change and, 2) the poor dose of weight loss interventions because of participant fatigue and drop out. Previous weight loss studies among adolescents have been of relatively long duration lasting 12-25 weeks, however, our team has developed a weight loss program that is a relatively brief (8-week brief) face-to-face intervention that integrates motivational (autonomy-support) and positive parenting skills (monitoring, social support, positive communication skills) for reducing z-BMI in overweight African American adolescents. Our team has also recently conducted a pilot study testing the feasibility of an 8-week on-line intervention that is culturally tailored fr African American families. Thus, the goal of this project is to conduct a randomized controlled efficacy trial to address the problems with past studies by 1) making the face-to-face group intervention shorter, 2) using an on-line component to compliment the group- based intervention for increasing dose, and by 3) tailoring a motivational and parenting skills program directly to parents and adolescents skill levels and cultural background. 520 overweight African American adolescents and their parents will be recruited to participate. Phase I of the trial will test the efficacy of an 8-week face-to-face group randomized trial comparing motivational plus family-based weight loss (M+FWL) to a basic health (BH) education program on reducing z-BMI and improving diet and physical activity (PA) in overweight African American adolescents. In phase II of the trial participants will be re-randomized to either an 8-week on-line intervention or a control on-line program resulting in a 2 (M+FWL vs. BH group) x 2 (intervention vs. control on-line program) factorial design. This design will allow us to test the effects of the M+FWL curriculum and the added effects of the on-line intervention component on reducing z-BMI in African American adolescents and their parents. A 6-month follow-up will examine whether adolescents in the 8-week M+FWL group plus 8-week on-line intervention program will show the greatest maintenance in reducing z- BMI. Psychosocial mediators of treatment effects will be examined as well as treatment effects related to parent changes in z-BMI and health behaviors (diet and PA).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section (PRDP)
Program Officer
Esposito, Layla E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of South Carolina at Columbia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Lawman, Hannah G; Horn, M Lee Van; Wilson, Dawn K et al. (2015) A multilevel approach to examining time-specific effects in accelerometer-assessed physical activity. J Sci Med Sport 18:667-72
Siceloff, E Rebekah; Coulon, Sandra M; Wilson, Dawn K (2014) Physical activity as a mediator linking neighborhood environmental supports and obesity in African Americans in the path trial. Health Psychol 33:481-9
George, Melissa W; Trumpeter, Nevelyn N; Wilson, Dawn K et al. (2014) Feasibility and preliminary outcomes from a pilot study of an integrated health-mental health promotion program in school mental health services. Fam Community Health 37:19-30
Lawman, Hannah G; Wilson, Dawn K (2014) Associations of social and environmental supports with sedentary behavior, light and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in obese underserved adolescents. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 11:92
Wilson, Dawn K; Alia, Kassandra A; Kitzman-Ulrich, Heather et al. (2014) A pilot study of the effects of a tailored web-based intervention on promoting fruit and vegetable intake in African American families. Child Obes 10:77-84
Alia, Kassandra A; Wilson, Dawn K; St George, Sara M et al. (2013) Effects of parenting style and parent-related weight and diet on adolescent weight status. J Pediatr Psychol 38:321-9
Schneider, Elizabeth M; Wilson, Dawn K; Kitzman-Ulrich, Heather et al. (2013) The associations of parenting factors with adolescent body mass index in an underserved population. J Obes 2013:715618
St George, Sara M; Wilson, Dawn K; Schneider, Elizabeth M et al. (2013) Project SHINE: effects of parent-adolescent communication on sedentary behavior in African American adolescents. J Pediatr Psychol 38:997-1009