Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 915–922 | Cite as

Weight Loss Maintenance in African–American Women: Focus Group Results and Questionnaire Development

  • Ann Smith Barnes
  • G. Kenneth Goodrick
  • Valory Pavlik
  • Jennifer Markesino
  • Donna Y. Laws
  • Wendell C. Taylor
Original Article



African-American women are disproportionately affected by obesity. Weight loss can occur, but maintenance is rare. Little is known about weight loss maintenance in African-American women.


(1) To increase understanding of weight loss maintenance in African-American women; (2) to use the elicitation procedure from the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to define the constructs of attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control regarding weight loss and maintenance; and (3) to help develop a relevant questionnaire that can be used to explore weight loss and maintenance in a large sample of African Americans.


Seven focus groups were conducted with African-American women: four with women successful at weight loss maintenance, three with women who lost weight but regained it. Discussions centered on weight loss and maintenance experiences.


Thirty-seven African-American women.


Content analysis of focus group transcripts.


Weight loss maintainers lost 22% of body weight. They view positive support from others and active opposition to cultural norms as critical for maintenance. They struggle with weight regain, but have strategies in place to lose weight again. Some maintainers struggle with being perceived as sick or too thin at their new weight. Regainers and maintainers struggle with hairstyle management during exercise. The theoretical constructs from TPB were defined and supported by focus group content.


A weight loss questionnaire for African Americans should include questions regarding social support in weight maintenance, the importance of hair management during exercise, the influence of cultural norms on weight and food consumption, and concerns about being perceived as too thin or sick when weight is lost.


African Americans weight loss maintenance theory of planned behavior focus group 



This work was supported by grant no. 5 K08 DK064898 (Dr. Barnes) from the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Smith Barnes
    • 1
  • G. Kenneth Goodrick
    • 2
  • Valory Pavlik
    • 2
  • Jennifer Markesino
    • 2
  • Donna Y. Laws
    • 2
  • Wendell C. Taylor
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of General Internal MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Community MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Promotion and Prevention ResearchUniversity of Texas School of Public HealthHoustonUSA

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