A randomized controlled trial to increase physical activity and reduce obesity in a predominantly African American group of women with mobility disabilities and severe obesity.

OBJECTIVE: This randomized controlled trial tested a tailored, telephone-based physical activity coaching intervention for a predominantly African American group of women with severe obesity and mobility disability.

METHODS: We recruited 92 clinic patients from the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center referred by their physicians during 2004-2007 and randomized participants to one of three groups–awareness(informational brochure, no coaching), lower support (phone coaching only) and higher support (phone coaching plus monthly exercise support group)–to determine the efficacy of a tailored coaching intervention on key health outcomes, which included body weight and body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity (barriers and self-reported activity), movement and mobility, general health, and social support.

RESULTS: The higher support group had the greatest reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) (7.4%) compared with a 0.2% and 1.6% increase in BMI for the lower support and awareness groups, respectively (pb.01). Both the higher and lower support groups had a greater increase in physical activity scores (39% and 30%, respectively) compared with a decline of 13% in the awareness group (pb.05).

CONCLUSION: Providing phone-based coaching and monthly in-person exercise support group sessions appear to be an effective approach for reducing body weight and increasing physical activity among severely obese, disabled adults residing in difficult social environments.