Excess weight and obesity have been linked to numerous medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stroke.

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In addition to an astronomical medical cost in the U.S. (estimated to be at least $150 billion annually), obesity has a disproportionate impact on population groups such as Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks. At CHR, we are committed to addressing these problems and finding effective ways to help people lose weight and maintain weight loss.

The Center for Health Research has been a powerful voice in the fields of obesity and weight control since the mid-1980s. Much of the research has been led by Victor Stevens, PhD, a behavioral psychologist with more than three decades of experience developing and evaluating health behavior change interventions. Dr. Stevens led the Weight Loss Maintenance trial, in which participants attended group sessions, participated in a web-based weight management program, and received personal coaching. Findings, published in JAMA in 2008, showed that personal coaching led to greater weight loss at six months and better weight maintenance.

The five-year Healthy Moms study, which concluded in 2014, worked with obese women to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. The study team found that obese women can limit their weight gain during pregnancy using conventional weight loss techniques such as attending weekly group support meetings, seeking advice about nutrition and diet, and keeping food and exercise journals.

Kim Vesco, MD, principal investigator of the Healthy Moms study, is expanding her work to help all pregnant women manage their weight during pregnancy. In a patient education video, she provides advice about weight gain recommendations and nutrition. She’s also teaching Kaiser Permanente providers how to use new tools in the electronic health record to track weight gain at each pre-natal visit. 

Featured Study

Culturally Sensitive Weight Loss Intervention for Women of Mexican Origin

Mexican-American women are especially susceptible to obesity, and there has not been sufficient research on how to stop this epidemic. This study addressed the cultural roots of obesity to help Mexican-American women lose weight and keep it off. The women met weekly for the first six months and monthly during the second half of the program. The 90-minute meetings, led by female interventionists who were also Mexican-American, included a weigh-in and discussion about nutrition, exercise, goal setting, and behavior change. Participants in this culturally tailored weight management program lost weight, reduced their fat and sugar consumption, and improved their eating habits.


Nangel Lindberg, PhD
Principal Investigator
Funder: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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