Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 133–148 | Cite as

Preventing weight gain in African American breast cancer survivors using smart scales and activity trackers: a randomized controlled pilot study

  • Carmina G. Valle
  • Allison M. Deal
  • Deborah F. Tate



This study evaluated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of two 6-month, self-regulation interventions that focused on daily self-weighing (DSW) and used objective monitoring and tailored feedback about weight (±activity), to prevent weight gain among African American breast cancer survivors.


Participants (n = 35) were randomized to an intervention + activity monitoring (INT+), intervention (INT), or control (CON) group. Interventions included a wireless scale (±activity tracker) that transmitted objective data to a mobile app/website, emailed lessons, and tailored feedback based on objective weight (±activity data). Participants completed in-person and online assessments at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months.


Ninety-four percent of participants completed assessments at 3 months, and 97 % at 6 months. Median (IQR) weight change after 6 months was −0.9 % (−4.4–0.1) in the INT+ (p = 0.075; p = 0.067 vs. CON) and −0.2 % (−4.2–1.3) in the INT groups (p = 0.463; p = 0.357 vs. CON), versus a 0.2 % (−0.7–1.7) gain in the CON group. The proportion of INT+, INT, and CON participants that were at or below baseline weight was 72.7, 53.8, and 45.5 %, respectively (effect sizes d = 0.64, d = 0.18). Most INT+ participants weighed and wore trackers ≥5 days/week (INT+, 81.9 % vs. INT, 38.5 % vs. CON, 0 %; p < 0.0005; INT+, 72.7 %). Both intervention groups perceived DSW as positive, and 100 % would recommend the program to other breast cancer survivors.


An intervention focused on DSW as a self-monitoring strategy shows promise for preventing weight gain in breast cancer survivors.

Implications for cancer survivors

Daily self-monitoring of weight and activity may be a feasible and accessible approach to promote weight gain prevention in breast cancer survivors.

Clinical trial registration, NCT02030353


Breast cancer survivors African American Randomized trial Weight gain prevention Intervention Technology 



The authors thank the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort participants for their important contributions. We gratefully acknowledge the staff of the UNC Weight Research Program for their valuable support, including Melissa Cochran, Dr. Melissa Crane, Dr. Brooke T. Nezami, Candice Alick, Loneke Blackman, and Rachel K. Bordogna, who provided excellent research assistance. We also wish to acknowledge Dr. Katherine Reeder-Hayes and Dr. Hyman Muss, who graciously assisted with study recruitment. Finally, we are most grateful to the cancer survivors who participated in the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Funding sources

This study was supported by a Developmental Research Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. At the time of the study, Carmina Valle was supported by the UNC Cancer Health Disparities Training Program (National Cancer Institute funded; T32CA128582). The UNC Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort is funded in part by the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s University Cancer Research Fund.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmina G. Valle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Allison M. Deal
    • 2
  • Deborah F. Tate
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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