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Study Shows Comprehensive Program Helps Obese Teens Lose Weight; Long-Term Intervention Necessary to Sustain Results

Research Investigates Efficacy of Community-Based Weight Management Program
Among Low-Income, Minority Adolescents

NEW YORK (August 05, 2013) – A community-based weight management program, the Bronx Nutrition and Fitness Initiative for Teens (B’N Fit), targeting severely obese youths, helped to improve Body Mass Index (BMI), increase fruit and vegetable consumption and boost physical activity levels among black and Hispanic youth, but intensive and long-term programming is essential to make lasting change. These findings were published in the journal Childhood Obesity.

The study included 349 urban adolescents, of which 67 percent were severely obese and more than 95 percent did not eat the recommended four servings of fruits and vegetables each day at baseline. Ninety-one participants completed the nine-month program, which included a robust curriculum of workshops that taught weight-loss skills such as limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, eating more fruits and vegetables, and participating in physical activity daily.

“Previous studies have demonstrated that comprehensive weight-loss programs do generate results, but we were curious to see how it would work for teens in the Bronx where the rate of obesity is almost 15%,” said Jessica Rieder, M.D., M.S., lead author and director of the B’N Fit Program at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), and associate clinical professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “We took the novel approach of looking at this population, as opposed to most previous studies that took place in well-controlled clinic- or school-based research settings. We found improvements can be made, but without continued healthy lifestyle support and participant and family engagement, weight regain is likely.”

At the study’s completion, researchers found signicant, but modest, clinical improvements in participants' BMI despite significant barriers expressed by participants including school obligations, family emergencies and transportation issues. Nine months after program and study completion, BMI increased in the majority of participants.

“Our study validates the notion that managing weight is a lifetime effort that requires support from myriad healthcare professionals in partnership with patients, families, schools and our communities to ensure that all aspects of the person’s health and well-being are addressed,” Dr. Rieder said. “Our next step is to leverage these findings and empower the youth and their families, with hospital and community support, to strengthen and invest in the program and themselves so that they are more engaged and able to achieve long-lasting healthy lifestyle behaviors.”

About B’N Fit
The B’N Fit program is an adolescent-focused, weight loss program for low-income, obese, minority adolescents, ages 12 through 21 years. The after-school program consists of four two-hour sessions per week over a nine month period and incorporates evidence-based elements of successful weight loss interventions, including nutritional counseling, exercise classes and family nights to encourage parental participation and education on how the entire family can adopt healthy behaviors.

It was developed in 2005 by Montefiore and the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) in response to the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity. The services are provided in a safe and supportive environment for teens and their families, teaching participants how to enhance their personal responsibility, and utilize family, social and community resources to achieve personal goals.