Feasibility of Enlisting Social Network Members to Promote Weight Loss among Latinas

Published:March 13, 2013DOI:


      Shaping network members into sources of support for healthy eating and exercise behaviors may be an effective strategy to enhance obesity treatment outcomes. This pilot study examined the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a behavioral weight loss intervention adapted for Latinas with a social network component. Twenty-seven Latinas (43.0±10.2 years and body mass index 36.9±5.7) participated in a 24-week randomized controlled intervention study. Participants attended group-based treatment either individually (Individual Lifestyle Group [ILG]) or with a weight loss partner selected from their existing network (Partner Lifestyle Group [PLG]). Repeated measures analysis of variance was conducted to compare ILG and PLG participants on changes in weight or psychosocial variables. Participants in both intervention groups attended 70% of treatment sessions; 96% and 100% completed assessment at post-treatment (12 weeks) and follow-up (24 weeks), respectively. Significant weight loss (P<0.01) was achieved at post-treatment (ILG −4.7±4.2 kg and PLG −4.3±4.4 kg) and follow-up (ILG −5.0±6.4 kg and PLG −4.7±5.0 kg), with nearly 50% of participants losing at least 5% of initial body weight. Both groups also experienced increased self-efficacy for weight loss (P<0.01), self-efficacy for exercise (P=0.02), and family social support for exercise habits (P=0.01). There were no significant differences between groups. Results from this study suggest a behavioral weight loss intervention for Latinas is feasible, but there is less support for the efficacy of weight loss partners.


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      B. Marquez is an assistant professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA.


      R. R. Wing is a professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, The Miriam Hospital/Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Providence, RI.