Translating evidence-based behavioral weight loss into a multi-level, community intervention within a community-based participatory research framework: the Wellness Engagement (WE) Project

Transl Behav Med. 2021 Jun 17;11(6):1235-1243. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibaa140.


Black Americans and individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are at disproportionate risk for obesity, yet are underrepresented in behavioral weight loss (BWL) trials and experience less benefit from traditional programs. The Wellness Engagement (WE) Project sought to translate evidence-based BWL within a CBPR framework to promote change across multiple domains of influence in an under-resourced, predominantly Black community. The purpose of this paper is to describe the efforts we undertook to translate data from our extensive formative phase into programming well suited to meet the needs of the Petersburg community. In addition, we present data from our pilot work on feasibility and acceptability. Formative data were collected using a variety of methods including a community-wide survey, asset mapping, house chats, focus groups, and key informant interviews. In collaboration with key stakeholders and community members, evidence-based approaches to weight loss were adapted to meet the needs of the community with respect to both content and delivery modality. Materials were adapted to focus on small, realistic changes appropriate for the specific context. Behavioral groups, experiential nutrition and exercise sessions, and walking groups leveraged existing assets and were open to all community members. Feasibility and acceptability ratings were promising. Furthermore, the WE Project appeared to contribute to a culture of wellness. CBPR might be a viable approach for engaging under-resourced Black communities in behavioral weight management; larger scale implementation and evaluation efforts are needed.

Keywords: behavioral weight loss; community engagement; community-based participatory research; lifestyle intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Exercise
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Weight Loss*