(RxWiki News) The obesity epidemic especially afflicts low-income people - who are also less likely to receive good health care. But at least one experimental program offers some positive results.
A recent clinical trial that enrolled obese, low-income participants in a lifestyle and weight loss program through their community clinics led to slight decreases in their weight and better control of their blood pressure.
"Seek out your doctor's help and support groups to lose weight."
Epidemiologist Graham Colditz, M.D., a professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and associate director of prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center, led the two-year study with participants from three community health centers in Boston.
The average age of the 365 obese participants was 54, and all were being treated for high blood pressure. A little over 70 percent were African American, nearly 70 percent were female, and a third had less than a high school education.
Each patient was assigned randomly to receive standard primary care or to take part in a weight loss program that emphasized goal-setting for behavior change, telephone counseling and voluntary support group meetings.
The participants in the weight loss and lifestyle program were also encourage to monitor their progress online or with an automated phone system.
Those patients who participated in the special lifestyle change program saw benefits both in terms of a small amount of weight loss - which they kept off - and lower blood pressure.
Though the patients in the weight loss program only lost an average of a little over two pounds, they did not regain the weight during the two-year study. Their blood pressure improvements were also clinically significant.
Although their average systolic blood pressure was only slightly (and not significantly) lower than the blood pressure of the participants receiving typical care, their increases in blood pressure were significantly lower.
Those who participated in the weight loss and lifestyle program were also more likely to have stable blood pressure that remained under control after two years than those who received regular care.
Although the improvements were not dramatic, they were significant enough that the authors believe similar programs are worth trying on a larger scale for low-income patients since they are typically the most likely to be obese and develop disease.
The study was published online March 12 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The research was funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute.