To date, attempts to construct effective weight loss interventions for African American adolescents with obesity (AAAO) have largely failed. While effective weight loss strategies and skills have been identified, lifestyle changes require youth and their families to learn new dietary and exercise behavior with repeated skills practice in natural ecology of the family. A major barrier is motivation of both parents and adolescents to engage in treatment and to adhere to behavior change recommendations. Advances in the science of increasing human motivation (both intrinsic and extrinsic) that could inform intervention development for minority youth with obesity have been insufficiently applied to date to the process of intervention development. The proposed center will bring together a multidisciplinary research group comprised of obesity intervention researchers with extensive experience in adolescent health behavior change research, basic behavioral scientists with experience in motivation and learning research and communication scientists with experience in provider-family interactions within urban populations. Basic science obesity researchers will inform intervention development by contributing a strong background in the physiological correlates of obesity. Finally experts in the area of community interventions for African American adolescents will contribute to the effective transport of these interventions to real-world settings. The overarching aims of the center are: To refine intervention protocols from our preliminary studies that maximize adolescent and parent skills, informed by learning theory, through the use of home and community-based interventions in which in-vivo opportunities are used to promote practice in making changes in dietary, exercise and sedentary behaviors in AAAO and their families (PHASE I);To develop intervention protocols that utilize findings from basic science regarding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to maximize adolescent and family adherence to recommendations for obesity-related behavior change in AAAO and their families (PHASE I);To develop an adaptive intervention using a sequential multiple randomized assignment trial (SMART design) (PHASE II);To refine the intervention including qualitative analysis of interviews from participant families and to develop further community participation in preparation for a confirmatory randomized clinical trial (PHASE III).
The project has the potential to reduce obesity, perhaps the greatest current public health crisis, among a high risk group -African American adolescents. The project has the potential to improve public health service delivery by training community health workers to deliver evidence-based behavioral health interventions.
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