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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Michigan to Create Wellness Project for African American Women and Children

A University of Michigan School of Public Health research project committed to supporting African American women in the attainment of optimal wellness via nutrition, activity, and weight management has received a grant from the JPB Foundation. The newly-funded program, Black Women’s Wellness Project: Building Healthier Lives with PRIDE for Self and Family, aims to tackle the epidemic of intergenerational obesity among overweight and obese African American women and children using an evidence-based approach to self-regulation and incremental lifestyle change.

“According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 75 percent of African Americans are overweight or obese and a staggering 82percent of African American women are either overweight or obese,” said Dr. Randall Brown, principal investigator and pediatrician at Michigan’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.  “Our project will zero in on the core determinants of obesity management to develop a self-management program that will draw on community health approaches for individuals and families. We are pleased that The JPB Foundation supports our mission to improve the health of at-risk individuals and the well-being of their family environment.”

The 2014 Gallup-Healthways report ranks Michigan within the uppermost quartile of states shouldering the highest obesity prevalence in the US. This project seeks to impact the determining factors of obesity management in cohorts throughout Michigan, specifically Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Ypsilanti, Jackson and Benton Harbor, by addressing the complex socio-cognitive constituents of intergenerational nutritional health behavior and physical activity choice in African American families. The intervention specifically targets obesity-related attitudes, knowledge, and dialogue–as well as food choice, eating and physical activity behavior change–utilizing a method that is congruent with community-based health resources and known to improve health outcomes in populations burdened by health care disparity, poverty and other chronic disease conditions.

Participants will be guided through a five-step process known as PRIDE, a lifestyle change framework designed to support women in the identification of potential contributing factors related to obesity management/or barriers to weight management and wellness The framework, while evidence based, offers flexibility without compromising impact, providing women at varying stages of readiness with easily applied tools to effect lifestyle change for self and family.

The core tenets of this self-regulated program consist of periods of reflective self-observation, problem identification, goal setting, strategy development for goal attainment, barrier identification and management, and, ongoing self-evaluation of skill application and process, and the opportunity to self-select rewards along each participant’s path to goal attainment. Affecting women’s self-regulation will not only target individual-level risk factors, but also elements of the family environment that can create future risk, thereby creating informed participant-partners who can choose opportunity for healthier lifestyles for their children and lead their communities as well.