Objective: To test a 2-year community- and family-based obesity prevention program for low-income African American girls: Stanford GEMS (Girls' health Enrichment Multi-site Studies).
Design: Randomized controlled trial with follow-up measures scheduled at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months.
Setting: Low-income areas of Oakland, California.
Participants: African American girls aged 8 to 10 years (N=261) and their parents or guardians.
Interventions: Families were randomized to one of two 2-year, culturally tailored interventions: (1) after-school hip-hop, African, and step dance classes and a home/family-based intervention to reduce screen media use or (2) information-based health education.
Main outcome measure: Changes in body mass index (BMI).
Results: Changes in BMI did not differ between groups (adjusted mean difference [95% confidence interval] = 0.04 [-0.18 to 0.27] per year). Among secondary outcomes, fasting total cholesterol level (adjusted mean difference, -3.49 [95% confidence interval, -5.28 to -1.70] mg/dL per year), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (-3.02 [-4.74 to -1.31] mg/dL per year), incidence of hyperinsulinemia (relative risk, 0.35 [0.13 to 0.93]), and depressive symptoms (-0.21 [-0.42 to -0.001] per year) decreased more among girls in the dance and screen time reduction intervention. In exploratory moderator analysis, the dance and screen time reduction intervention slowed BMI gain more than health education among girls who watched more television at baseline (P = .02) and/or those whose parents or guardians were unmarried (P = .01).
Conclusions: A culturally tailored after-school dance and screen time reduction intervention for low-income, preadolescent African American girls did not significantly reduce BMI gain compared with health education but did produce potentially clinically important reductions in lipid levels, hyperinsulinemia, and depressive symptoms. There was also evidence for greater effectiveness in high-risk subgroups of girls.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00000615.