Candice A. Myers

TARGETing Healthy Weight Loss in the Context of Food Insecurity Pilot and Feasibility Trial II

Candice A, Myers, Ph.D.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center


Food insecurity, or the lack of sufficient food in both quality and quantity for an active and healthy life, is a pressing health issue in the United States with over 18% of adults being food insecure. Food insecurity is a risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including obesity. Importantly, both food insecurity and excess body weight are significantly linked in women. Research efforts are needed to address and mitigate this health disparity.

To this end, the primary goal of this pilot and feasibility study is to test the effects of a novel tailored weight loss intervention targeted to women who concurrently experience food insecurity and excess body weight. The intervention will also give specific attention to key psychological mechanisms associated with the food insecurity-obesity linkage, including delay discounting, grit, future time perspective, and subjective social status. The TARGET intervention is being developed using formative, qualitative data from a sample of key stakeholders from the local community: women who experience both food insecurity and obesity. These stakeholders were selected to provide in-depth information about their needs and desires for a tailored weight loss intervention via a series of focus groups. The goal of the current pilot study is to test the TARGET intervention.

This study will enroll 15 food insecure women (age 18-65 y) with obesity (BMI 30-50 kg/m2) to a non-randomized single arm trial where in all participants receive the tailored weight loss intervention. The intervention will be 12 weeks and include weekly individual intervention sessions. The primary outcome will be change in body weight across 12 weeks. Participants will receive scales to use in-home to obtain weekly body weight in tandem with weekly intervention sessions. Secondary outcomes, delay discounting, grit, future time perspective, and subjective social status, will be assessed via validated questionnaires. Findings from this study will provide novel data and an implementable weight loss intervention for women who face the dual burden of food insecurity and excess body weight, which compromises their overall health and quality of life. This study has significant public health implications by addressing psychological mechanisms that can be targeted to mitigate the adverse relationship between food insecurity and obesity and reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations.


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