Promoting Healthy Body Weight Among African-American Women

Testing a motivational interviewing intervention to reduce body weight among obese African-American women in Milwaukee

Full Project Name:Promoting Healthy Body Weight Among African-American Women Through a Community Participatory ModelPrimary Community Organization:Marquette UniversityPrimary Academic Partner:Edith Burns, MD, MedicineAward Amount:$198,294
Award Date
January2013
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:


Wisconsin spends an excess of $1.5 billion for obesity-related medical care annually. The problem of obesity is more prevalent among minority populations in the state, with rates of overweight and obesity among African-Americans reported at approximately 67% compared with 63% of whites. Almost 41% of African-American women are obese and another 27.7% are overweight, the highest rate of obesity of any gender/minority group in Wisconsin.

This higher prevalence of obesity is associated with higher proportions of related conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A random sample of medical charts of women who attend the Marquette University Clinic for Woman and Children echoed this data, indicating a high prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among the group.

Project partners aim to better support African-American women who are obese by bringing together partners from a targeted neighborhood to promote healthy body weight among African-American females through a community-based participatory model, aiming to determine if a motivational interviewing technique using a peer community health advisor can improve nutritional intake, increase physical activity, and reduce body weight among women in the target population.

Community partners:
Bread of Healing Clinic

Additional MCW academic partners:
Zeno Franco, PhD, Family and Community Medicine; David Nelson, PhD, MS, Family and Community Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established a Project Advisory Board consisting of six community members and six academic partners to identify and include local context, sources or data, and neighborhood resources into the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the motivational interviewing (MI) intervention • Engaged community health workers (CHWs) in two phases, beginning with one-on-one motivational interviews conducted by the CHWs with project participants followed by participation in Healthy Learning Circles, which are supervised by CHWs to provide social support and a forum to discuss challenges and different approaches to incorporating health information into participant lifestyles

• Conducted qualitative and quantitative assessment of data provided by participants to determine project's effectiveness • Leveraged $350 from through in-kind time from project partners

• Published articles in various journals such as Black Sociology: Contemporary Issues and Future Trends and Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved

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