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Americans are now more stressed out than ever. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 8 in 10 adults say the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life, and 2 in 3 adults say they have experienced increased stress over the course of the pandemic.

Researchers have linked stress and weight gain, and now a new study at Moffitt Cancer Center will investigate the role stress plays in weight loss among Black women.

Dr. Tiffany Carson, Health Outcomes and Behavior Program

Dr. Tiffany Carson, Health Outcomes and Behavior Program

“The purpose of the RESET study is to determine whether enhancing current evidence-based behavioral weight loss programs with additional training in stress management will lead to better weight loss outcomes for Black women with obesity and elevated stress levels,” said Dr. Tiffany Carson, a researcher in Moffitt’s Health Outcomes and Behavior Program and principal study investigator.

Participants will be offered 26 online intervention sessions over the course of a year and be asked to come to the cancer center four times for routine health assessments. The study will randomly assign the women into two groups: one that receives an evidence-based weight loss intervention combined with general women’s health topics, and one that receives an evidence-based weight loss intervention combined with stress management training.

About 13 different cancers are associated with obesity. “Obesity is thought to be the second highest risk factor for many cancer types, only second to tobacco use, so we want to give people the tools, resources and education to make better decisions about weight management so they can lower their risk for these cancer types associated with obesity.”

Carson says it’s also important to make sure behavioral interventions and recommendations are culturally tailored and appropriate for certain populations.

“Black women tend to lose less weight than white men and women engaged in the same interventions,” she said. “We also know that Black women tend to have elevated stress compared to other groups, so that’s why we want to incorporate the stress management component. We have also done the work to culturally tailor the materials to be presented in a way that will be appealing and relevant to our target population.”

The study will enroll 340 participants over the next four years. Black women between the ages of 21-75 with a body mass index (BMI) equal to or higher than 30 and an elevated stress level are eligible to participate. You cannot have any major medical conditions or diagnoses, have undergone any recent bariatric surgeries or extreme weight loss or be pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The RESET study will open towards the end of October. For more information or to enroll, email or click here