Preventing Obesity in Young Black Girls Proves Challenging

But program involving after-school dancing may result in lower lipid levels, hyperinsulinemia

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A variety of interventions, including hip-hop dancing, group counseling, home/family interventions, and health education, failed to prevent obesity or body mass index (BMI) gain in young African-American girls in a pair of research studies published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Thomas N. Robinson, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues randomized a group of low-income 8- to 10-year-old African-American girls to either weight control interventions consisting of after-school hip-hop, African, and step dance classes and a home/family-based intervention to reduce television and computer use, or usual information-based health education. After two years, the dance and home/family interventions had not significantly reduced BMI gain compared to health education. However, it did result in possibly clinically important reductions in lipid levels, hyperinsulinemia, and depressive symptoms.

In a second study, Robert C. Klesges, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and colleagues randomized a group of overweight 8- to 10-year-old African-American girls who had a BMI at or above the 25th percentile for age or one parent with a BMI of at least 25 kg/m ² to behavioral counseling, the intent of which was to either encourage increased exercise and healthier eating or to improve self-esteem and social efficacy. At the end of the two-year program, BMI had increased in all of the girls, though a small reduction was seen in sweetened beverage consumption and small increases were seen in water and vegetable consumption.

"The lack of significant BMI change at two years indicates that this intervention alone is insufficient for obesity prevention. Effectiveness may require more explicit behavior change goals and a stronger physical activity component as well as supportive changes in environmental contexts," Klesges and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Robinson
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Abstract - Klesges
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