Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings (TOURS)
To test the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote long-term weight management of obese women in medically underserved rural counties.
Behavioral: Physical activity
|Study Design:||Primary Purpose: Treatment|
|Study Start Date:||June 2003|
|Study Completion Date:||May 2008|
|Primary Completion Date:||May 2008 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)|
The recent dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity has heightened awareness of the significant impact of overweight, physical inactivity, and unhealthy eating patterns on the development of chronic diseases and disability While there is little doubt that obesity and associated lifestyle factors (e.g., sedentary lifestyle) constitute serious threats to health, it is also clear that lifestyle interventions can produce body weight reductions of sufficient magnitude to improve health. The existing research is limited, however, with respect to two important factors, specifically, its generalizability to underserved populations, and the maintenance of treatment effects. Most weight-loss trials have consisted of efficacy studies conducted with middle-class participants and delivered in "optimal" (i.e., academic research) venues rather than in "real world" (i.e., community) settings. Furthermore, the existing literature shows that, in the absence of long-term care, a regaining of lost weight routinely follows the conclusion of treatment. Recent research has shown improved maintenance of lost weight when lifestyle interventions are supplemented with clinic-based follow-up programs. Thus, the next logical steps in this line of research are (a) to extend these studies to community settings with underserved populations and (b) to test promising alternative and potentially more efficient modes of treatment delivery, such as follow-up care via telephone-based contacts rather than via in-person clinic visits.
A randomized controlled clinical trial will examine the impact of two maintenance interventions designed to sustain weight lost in lifestyle treatment of obesity. The study sample will include 300 obese women, ages 50-75 years, from medically underserved rural areas in North Central Florida. All participants will receive a 6-month lifestyle intervention for weight loss (called Phase 1) followed by one of three 12-month follow-up (called Phase 2) programs: (A) an Office-Based Maintenance Program, (B) a Telephone-Based Maintenance Program, or (C) an Education Control Condition. Participants will be stratified according to county and to BMI, and randomly assigned in groups of 11-12 to one of the two experimental programs or to the control condition. The experimental maintenance programs are designed to help participants sustain the eating and physical activity patterns needed to maintain lost weight. The primary difference between the two maintenance programs is their mode of delivery. One will be delivered via an office-based group counseling format; the other will be delivered via telephone counseling. The education control condition will involve a program of print materials on the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle delivered via biweekly newsletters.