Temple Awarded 5-year, $3.47 Million NIH Grant to Investigate Evidence-Based Treatment Approach to Prevent Excessive Weight Gain in Pregnancy

(Philadelphia, PA) – The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a Temple-led research team a 5-year, $3.47 million grant. The team will partner with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition program of Philadelphia to investigate an evidence-based treatment approach for the prevention of excessive weight gain in pregnancy among the medically vulnerable women WIC serves.

“This project will be the first of its kind to evaluate a comprehensive obesity treatment program that uses WIC provider counseling and mobile health technology tailored to low-income, racial/ethnic minority pregnant women,” said Sharon J. Herring, MD, MPH, principal investigator on the grant and Associate Professor of Medicine, Obstetrics & Reproductive Sciences and Clinical Sciences at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

Low-income women have the highest rates of obesity, but almost no resources to support weight control in pregnancy, noted Herring. “Although Institute of Medicine guidelines for weight gain in pregnancy are clear, without intervention, most women with obesity will exceed recommended gains and incur significant morbidity for themselves and their children.”

This grant will allow the research team to conduct a trial aimed at addressing a gap in the availability of evidence-based treatment approaches to prevent excessive weight in pregnancy among women with obesity.

“Our group has preliminary data supporting the efficacy of digital health platforms for delivering obesity treatment for medically vulnerable, pregnant women,” added Dr. Herring. “However, our relatively inexpensive and potentially scalable approach has not been integrated and tested in real world settings, limiting broad reach and dissemination potential.” To address these limitations, the trial funded by this NIH grant will leverage WIC’s Philadelphia community clinics as sites to test the research group’s obesity treatment approach.

The team will randomize 438 African American and Hispanic Philadelphia County WIC participants with obesity in early pregnancy to one of two treatment groups. The first group will receive standard WIC care. The second group will receive focused obesity treatment, including empirically-supported behavior change goals, regular self-monitoring text messages with automated feedback, tailored skills training materials and counseling from WIC nutritionists.

The primary outcome of the trial will be prevalence of excessive gestational weight gain, but the team will also examine changes in diet and physical activity, health-related quality of life and rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes. In addition, the researchers will evaluate the intervention’s dissemination potential and cost effectiveness in the WIC setting.

Editor’s Note: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DK115939. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Temple Health
Temple University Health System (TUHS) is a $2.1 billion academic health system dedicated to providing access to quality patient care and supporting excellence in medical education and research.   The Health System consists of Temple University Hospital (TUH), ranked among the “Best Hospitals” in the region by U.S. News & World Report; TUH-Episcopal Campus; TUH-Northeastern Campus; Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center;  Jeanes Hospital, a community-based hospital offering medical, surgical and emergency services; Temple Transport Team, a ground and air-ambulance company; and Temple Physicians, Inc., a network of community-based specialty and primary-care physician practices.  TUHS is affiliated with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and Temple University Physicians, which is Temple Health’s physician practice plan comprised of more than 500 full-time and part-time academic physicians in 20 clinical departments.

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM), established in 1901, is one of the nation’s leading medical schools.  Each year, the School of Medicine educates more than 800 medical students and approximately 240 graduate students. Based on its level of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Katz School of Medicine is the second-highest ranked medical school in Philadelphia and the third-highest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  According to U.S. News & World Report, LKSOM is among the top 10 most applied-to medical schools in the nation.

Temple Health refers to the health, education and research activities carried out by the affiliates of Temple University Health System (TUHS) and by the Katz School of Medicine.  TUHS neither provides nor controls the provision of health care. All health care is provided by its member organizations or independent health care providers affiliated with TUHS member organizations. Each TUHS member organization is owned and operated pursuant to its governing documents.

Jeremy Walter

Date Published: Monday, January 7, 2019