Duke Study Finds a Weight Management Program Can Reduce Depression Among Black Women

dukeuniversitylogoA new study by researchers at Duke University finds that an intervention program aimed at helping African American women maintain their weight also significantly reduced depression among participants.

The study involved two groups of low-income, obese Black women. One group received only regular medical care from their physicians. Another group received automated telephone calls each week for 12 months and monthly calls from a personal health coach. After 18 months, the group that did not participate in the intervention had similar rates of depression symptoms. But the depression rate in the group that participated in the intervention dropped from 19 percent to 10 percent.

“Interventions that focus on maintaining your weight, not just losing weight, may have more widespread effects,” said lead author Dori Steinberg, a research scholar with the Duke Digital Health Science Center. “It is exciting that we improved depression among a population that is severely socioeconomically disadvantaged and has limited access to depression treatment. The reductions we saw in depression are comparable to what is seen with traditional approaches like counseling or medication treatment.”

Dr. Steinberg is a graduate of Cornell University. She holds a master of public health degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in nutrition and public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The article, “The Effect of a ‘Maintain, Don’t Gain’ Approach to Weight Management on Depression Among Black Women: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial,” was published on the website of the American Journal of Public Health. It may be accessed here.

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