American Indians; weight loss; community-based participatory research; pilot study


Community Health and Preventive Medicine


American Indians (AIs) have higher rates of obesity than other racial/ethnic groups, placing them at heightened risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers. Culturally appropriate weight loss interventions may be the key to reducing risk. The most successful program used in AI communities has been the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which limits enrollment to individuals with a clinical diagnosis of pre-diabetes. The purpose of this pilot project was to modify and culturally tailor a weight loss intervention to AI communities in Kansas to improve weight loss related behaviors among those who do not qualify for the DPP. The Native American Weight Loss Movement (NAWLM) was developed from 2012-2014 using an iterative process with 4 sequential modifications to the program. Group 1 received a slightly modified version of the DPP that was originally tailored to African Americans. Each group received an improved program based on modifications from the previous group. Our analysis shows 36.1% (95% CI: 25.7, 47.5) of all participants (n=72) lost weight; a majority (63.9%, 95% CI: 52.8-75.0) maintained weight, gained weight, or dropped out. Among individuals who completed the program (n=34), 76.5% lost weight (95% CI: 61.4, 91.5). These individuals lost an average of 2.98% body weight (95% CI: 1.58, 4.37), with 6 participants losing >7% body weight. While most participants who completed the program lost weight, more research is needed to determine factors that discourage drop-out and promote behavioral changes. NAWLM shows promise as a weight loss program for AIs who do not qualify for the DPP.