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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Oct;41(4):385-91. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.06.041.

Lay health educators translate a weight-loss intervention in senior centers: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.



Older adults have high obesity rates and respond well to evidence-based weight-loss programs, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Lifestyle intervention. The goal of this study was to determine whether a translation of the DPP Lifestyle program delivered by lay health educators and conducted in senior centers is effective in promoting weight loss among older adults.


An RCT with older adults nested within senior centers. Senior centers identified lay health educators to receive training and deliver the intervention program at the senior center. Senior centers were randomized to DPP Lifestyle program or an attention control intervention (cognitive training).


Senior centers (N=15) located throughout Arkansas. Participants (N=228) were obese (BMI=34.5±4.9) older (aged 71.2±6.6 years) adults able to engage in moderate exercise. Follow-up data were collected at 4 months on 93% of the original cohort between February 2009 and July 2010.


A 12-session translation of the Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle behavioral weight-control program delivered in group sessions by trained lay health educators.


Body weight was assessed by digital scale. Percentage weight loss from baseline and proportion achieving ≥5% and ≥7% weight loss were examined. Analyses were completed in March 2011.


Participants attending senior centers randomized to Lifestyle lost a significantly greater percentage of baseline weight (3.8%, 95% CI=2.9%, 4.6%) than those in the control senior centers (0.2%, 95% CI= -0.6%, -0.9%) after adjusting for baseline BMI and gender (p<0.001). Among participants attending senior centers offering the Lifestyle program, 38% lost ≥5% of baseline weight compared with 5% in the control arm (p<0.001). Similarly, significantly more participants (24%) in Lifestyle senior centers lost ≥7% than did control participants (3%, p=0.001).


A behavioral lifestyle weight-loss intervention delivered by a lay health educator offers a promising vehicle for translation of evidence-based obesity treatment programs in underserved areas.


This study is registered at Clinicaltrials.govNCT01377506.

Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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