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The EARLY trials: a consortium of studies targeting weight control in young adults

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Translational Behavioral Medicine


Young adulthood has been identified as a high-risk period for the development of obesity but few interventions have been tested in this population. One way to escalate our learning about effective interventions is to test a number of interventions simultaneously as a consortium of research trials. This paper describes the Early Adult Reduction of weight through LifestYle intervention (EARLY) trials. Seven research sites were funded to conduct intervention trials, agreeing to test similar primary outcomes and cooperating to use a set of common measurement tools. The EARLY consortium was able to work cooperatively using an executive committee, a steering committee, workgroups and subcommittees to help direct the common work and implement a set of common protocol and measurement tools for seven independent but coordinated weight-related intervention trials. Using a consortium of studies to help young adults reach or maintain a healthy weight will result in increased efficiency and speed in understanding the most effective intervention strategies.

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The EARLY trials are funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: HL096760-02 (Fernandez and Olson), HL096770-01 (Jakicic), HL096628-01 (Johnson), HL096767-01 (Lytle), HL096715-01 (Patrick), HL096720-01 (Svetkey), HL090864 (Wing), and HL090875 (Espeland). All of the trials are registered as clinical trials: NCT01134783 (CHOICES), NCT01092364 (CITY), NCT01331564 (e-MomsRoc), NCT01121871 (IDEA), NCT01200459 (SMART), NCT01183689 (SNAP), and NCT01199185 (TARGIT). The authors would like to acknowledge all of the investigators involved in the EARLY trials and Megan Treziok and Helena Knego for their help with tables and formatting the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Leslie A Lytle PhD, MS.

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Researchers: A common protocol and set of measurement tools to assess the same primary outcome across seven studies allows researchers to pool data and to make comparisons in efficacy across a variety of intervention strategies.

Practitioners: Standardizing elements of independent studies while testing a variety of intervention approaches allows practitioners to evaluate a wide set of strategies for weight management and to make better decisions about the most effective and appropriate strategies for their population.

Policy-makers: Evaluating the comparative efficacy of a variety of approaches to weight management for young adults allows a more rapid translation of actionable strategies for policy makers.

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Lytle, L.A., Svetkey, L.P., Patrick, K. et al. The EARLY trials: a consortium of studies targeting weight control in young adults. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 4, 304–313 (2014).

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