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St. Jude program reduces weight gain in young African-American girls
Date:11/8/2007

evention; and 150 to the alternative group that emphasized self-esteem and social skills. A total of 41 percent of the girls were already overweight, and 25 percent came from households with an annual income of less than $20,000.

The GEMS program emphasized weight-gain prevention and weight loss during 14 weekly and 20 monthly meetings that were about 90 minutes long. The objectives of these sessions included reducing participants intake of high-fat foods, increasing water intake, reducing intake of sweetened beverages, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing frequency of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and avoiding unhealthy behaviors.

Although girls in both the GEMS group and the comparison group gained weight since they were still growing, the prevalence of girls who remained overweight and obese throughout the study dropped by 40 percent in the GEMS intervention group by the end of the first year, compared to a drop of 21 percent among obese girls in the comparison group. By the end of the second year, the prevalence of obesity among the girls in the GEMS group was about 30 percent less than the prevalence at the start of the study, compared to a drop of 15 percent in the alternative intervention group.

This positive effect in the GEMS group occurred as a result of changes in dietary intake, particularly in the reduction of consumption of sweetened beverages (e.g., soda). The GEMS girls did not appear to significantly increase their physical activity, which suggests that even without increased exercise, a proper diet can control weight gain in high-risk young girls, Klesges said.

Increasing exercising might further reduce weight gain, he said. The long-term goal is to help girls avoid obesity in the first place and therefore avoid the health problems caused by obesity. One important thing we found is that we can increase the success rate if we dont give up on these girls.


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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-495-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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