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Public Health Rep. 1992 Sep-Oct;107(5):549-55.

Family versus individually oriented intervention for weight loss in Mexican American women.

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Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030.


Mexican Americans are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites, yet little research has been conducted on the treatment of obesity in Mexican Americans. The purpose of this study was to compare a family-based intervention with a traditional program oriented to the individual for achieving weight loss by obese Mexican American women. A total of 168 obese women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Group 1 served as a comparison group and received only printed materials on nutrition, exercise, and behavioral principles for weight loss. Subjects in the individual group (group 2) received the same printed information, but they also attended classes led by bilingual registered dietitians. Subjects in the family group (group 3) received materials and attended classes that emphasized a family-oriented approach to making changes in eating habits and exercise behavior. Spouses and children attended classes with subjects in this group. Results revealed a significant linear trend in both body mass index and weight reduction across the groups, with losses greatest in the family group, followed by the individual group, and least in the comparison group. Both the individual and the family groups lost significantly more weight than the comparison group, although the difference between these two groups was not statistically significant. The results suggest that a culturally and linguistically appropriate program can achieve significant weight reduction among Mexican Americans. More research should be conducted on the effects of family and other types of social support on weight loss by Mexican Americans.

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