A Guided Weight Loss Program for African American Breast Cancer Survivors

A Guided Weight Loss Program for African American Breast Cancer Survivors

Take-Home Message:

A guided weight loss program, with both exercise and dietary instruction, is more effective than self-directed weight loss activities among African American breast cancer survivors (AABCS).


Efficacy of a Weight Loss Intervention for African American Breast Cancer Survivors

Authors: Stolley, M. et. al.

Source: J Clin Oncol DOI:


Overall, the mortality (death) rates among African American women are higher than for white women. These differences are due to many influences, including the fact that African American women are more likely to have diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes and are also more likely to be overweight or obese. African American women with breast cancer are more likely to die of the disease compared with white women.

Studies show that weight loss among overweight and obese breast cancer survivors is associated with improved breast cancer outcomes. However, there have been very few African American women included in these studies. African American breast cancer survivors (AABCS) are expected to have improved outcomes with weight loss, just as observed among their white counterparts. This study set out to identify an effective weight loss strategy for this subgroup of cancer survivors.

Over 240 overweight and obese AABCS with stages I-III breast cancer were included in the project. They were randomized to either a six-month guided diet and exercise program called Moving Forward (twice weekly exercise sessions, classes and text messaging, social support, access to health promotion resources) or six months of completely self-directed diet and exercise. Results were measured at six months and 12 months after beginning the programs.

The guided group had significantly greater loss of body weight, percentage of body fat and fat mass at both time points. The guided group also had higher amounts of vigorous physical activity and lower caloric intake, with less consumption of added sugar.

The investigators confirmed that a guided weight loss and diet regimen are more effective than self-direction among AABCS. This is consistent with results among white women. Continued work is needed to include more African American participants in weight loss studies such as this. These women should be followed long-term to observe their outcomes with respect to breast cancer.