Looking to take off a few extra holiday pounds? Researchers at Winston-Salem State University may have the answer. WSSU researchers have received a $325,000 grant to implement and explore the effectiveness of a weight management program for African American adults on campus and in neighboring communities in Winston-Salem.
The two-year grant – from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Historically Black Colleges and Universities Health Services Research Grant Program – will fund the development of Weight Matters, an 18-week program that will provide complimentary health screenings, exercise classes, incentives for participation, and a small stipend for the completion of all required program activities.
Researchers are recruiting 400 adults for the research study, which will begin in January.
“Given that African Americans suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases, addressing chronic disease risk factors is a critical component in the elimination of health disparities,” said Dr. Cynthia Williams Brown, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Sport Studies (HPSS) at WSSU and principal investigator for the grant. “We are honored and grateful that CMS recognizes the value of WSSU researchers and the importance of the qualitative and quantitative research conducted addressing health disparities on our campus and in our neighboring communities.”
The projected outcomes include: increased awareness and knowledge of weight management and a reduction in chronic disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, Williams Brown said.
Weight Matters also will focus on the use of technology, which has shown promise in helping people manage their weight, she said. WSSU HPSS will partner with Novant Health’s Forsyth Medical Center, WSSU University Recreation, the Winston Lake Family YMCA, Fulton Family YMCA, the Gateway YWCA and additional faith-based and community partners.
Research finds that more than 75 percent of African Americans are overweight or obese, and African Americans are 1.5 times more likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites. African American women have the highest obesity rate in the United States. Co-investigators on the grant are Dr. Greg Henderson and Dr. Kiboum Kim, faculty members in the WSSU Department of Human Service Studies.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assists HBCU researchers by supporting extramural research in health care capacity development activities for the African American communities and assist in fostering inter-university communication and collaboration regarding African American health disparity issues.