Racial Differences in Weight Loss Among Adults in a Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention: Role of Diet and Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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African-Americans lose less weight during a behavioral intervention compared with Whites, which may be from differences in dietary intake or physical activity.


Subjects (30% African American, 70% White; n = 346; 42.4 ± 9.0 yrs.; BMI = 33.0 ± 3.7 kg/m2) in an 18-month weight loss intervention were randomized to a standard behavioral (SBWI) or a stepped-care (STEP) intervention. Weight, dietary intake, self-report and objective physical activity, and fitness were assessed at 0, 6, 12, and 18 months.


Weight loss at 18 months was greater in Whites (–8.74 kg with 95% CI [–10.10, –7.35]) compared with African Americans (–5.62 kg with 95% CI [–7.86, –3.37]) (P = .03) in the SBWI group and the STEP group (White: –7.48 kg with 95% CI [–8.80, –6.17] vs. African American: –4.41kg with 95% CI [–6.41, –2.42]) (P = .01). Patterns of change in dietary intake were not different between groups. Objective physical activity (PA) changed over time (P < .0001) and was higher in Whites when compared with African Americans (P = .01).


Whites lost more weight (3.10 kg) than African American adults. Although there were no differences in dietary intake, Whites had higher levels of objective PA and fitness. Thus, the discrepancy in weight loss may be due to differences in PA rather than dietary intake. However, the precise role of these factors warrants further investigation.

Davis (kkd2@pitt.edu), Rickman, Erickson, and Jakicic are with the Dept of Health and Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Tate and Polzien are with the Dept of Public Health and Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lang and Neiberg are with the Division of Public Health Sciences, Dept of Biostatistical Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.