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NHLBI Obesity Research

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Girl’s Health Enrichment Multi-site Studies (GEMS)

The NHLBI-funded Girls Health Enrichment Multisite Studies (GEMS) program is a two-phase collaborative research program. During Phase 1, four studies developed and pilot-tested separate interventions to prevent excessive weight gain in African-American girls aged 8-10 years. In Phase 2, the two most promising interventions tested the effects of two-year interventions on body mass index (BMI) in two separate randomized controlled trials at the University of Memphis and Stanford University.

The Memphis GEMS trial is testing the efficacy of a 2-year family-based intervention to reduce excessive increase in BMI. This randomized, controlled trial is being conducted at community centers in Memphis, Tennessee. The participants are 303 healthy African-American girls and one parent/caregiver of each girl. Participating girls are age 8-10 years with BMI>=25th percentile of the CDC 2000 growth charts or having one overweight/obese parent. The active intervention was designed to prevent excessive weight gain by promoting healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity. An alternative intervention promotes general self-esteem and social efficacy. The main outcome is the difference between the two treatment groups in the change in BMI at 2 years.

The Stanford GEMS trial is also a randomized controlled trial, designed to test the efficacy of a two-year community- and family-based intervention to reduce weight gain in pre-adolescent African American girls. Participants are 8-10 year old girls and their parents/caregivers in low-income areas of Oakland, California. The population sample had a mean body mass index (BMI) at the 74th percentile on the 2000 CDC BMI reference. Two-hundred sixty one families were randomized to an intervention or no treatment control. Girls in the active arm received a culturally-tailored after-school dance program and a home-family-based intervention to reduce screen media use (e.g., reduce television, videotape, and videogame use).

Selected References:

Kumanyika SK, Obarzanek E, Robinson TN, et al. Phase 1 of the Girls health Enrichment Multi-site Studies (GEMS): conclusion. Ethn Dis 2003;13:S88-91.

Klesges RC, Obarzanek E, Klesges LM, et al. Memphis Girls health Enrichment Multi-site Studies (GEMS): Phase 2: design and baseline. Contemp Clin Trials 2008;29:42-55.

Robinson TN, Kraemer HC, Matheson DM, et al. Stanford GEMS phase 2 obesity prevention trial for low-income African-American girls: design and sample baseline characteristics. Contemp Clin Trials 2008;29:56-69.

Klesges RC, Obarzanek E, Kumanyika S, et al. The Memphis Girls’ health Enrichment Multi-site Studies (GEMS): an evaluation of the efficacy of a 2-year obesity prevention program in African American girls. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Nov;164(11):1007-14.

Robinson TN, Matheson DM, Kraemer HC, et al. A randomized controlled trial of culturally tailored dance and reducing screen time to prevent weight gain in low-income African American girls: Stanford GEMS. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Nov;164(11):995-1004.

Last Updated March 2011

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