Parents lose less weight than nonparents in an intensive lifestyle intervention

Carolyn T. Bramante, Rachel L.J. Thornton, Scott J. Pilla, Nisa M. Maruthur, Maya Venkataramani, Jeanne M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Understand whether parents lose less weight than nonparents in behavioural weight interventions. Methods: The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial randomized adults with Type 2 diabetes and overweight to an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) or control (diabetes support and education [DSE]). Participants who reported living with a child under age 18 were designated as ‘parents’ for this analysis. Intention to treat analysis was performed of the effect of the ILI on change in weight at 1 year by parental status. Adherence to attending intervention visits was compared between parents and nonparents. Subgroup analyses were done based on previous subgroup findings in the Look AHEAD study. Results: Among 4,547 participants, 15% were parents. Parents were younger and more likely to have self-identified as African American or Hispanic/Latino. Comparing ILI with DSE, parents lost less weight than nonparents (−7.1% vs. −8.3%, p = 0.021). African American female parents lost 4% body weight compared with 7% in African American female nonparents (p = 0.01). Conclusions: In a randomized trial, parents lost less weight than nonparents, and this difference was largest for African American women. These findings suggest parents face unique challenges achieving weight loss; more research is needed to understand and optimize interventions for parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-506
Number of pages13
JournalObesity Science and Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • barriers to weight loss
  • intergenerational obesity
  • paediatric obesity
  • parental obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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