University of Pittsburgh Center for Aging and Population Health


Obesity is common in older adults.  As the epidemic is not lessening, it will become even more urgent an issue to address as the baby boomer generation reaches old age.  In older adults, obesity threatens mobility directly and indirectly through multiple chronic diseases such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and lipid disorders.  These conditions contribute substantially to disability.  The American Society for Nutrition, The Obesity Society, and the American Heart Association all recommend weight loss with exercise for the management of obesity in older adults.  This implementation project aims to focus on reducing obesity and subsequent chronic disease in older adults.

The Look AHEAD clinical trial, a weight loss and physical activity intervention, was effective in preventing disability in people with type 2 diabetes.  Therefore, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Prevention Research Center have adapted the program into an evidence-based weight management intervention called the Mobility and Vitality Lifestyle Program (MOVE UP) and implementing it in a community setting.  Participants include men and women ages 60-75 with a BMI between 27-45.  MOVE UP is currently being implemented in Allegheny County.  Participants are recruited using recommendations from sites, newsletters or newsletter announcements, presentations at membership gatherings, targeted mailings to membership, and mailings to the population surrounding the site.  MOVE UP sessions are led by community health workers who are trained and supervised by PRC staff and faculty.  During the first month, there is a focus on implementation of key lessons around diet/nutrition and physical activity.

Participant assessments are conducted at baseline, 5, 9 and 13 months. Participants meet weekly in a group session during the first five months, biweekly for the next four months, and monthly for the remainder of the year. Each participant receives written lessons at each session.  Participants receive information on calorie control, nutrition, physical activity and exercise, as well as safety.  For diet, participants are encouraged to consume 30 percent fewer calories from fat while maintaining an adequate protein intake. For physical activity, they are encouraged to achieve an initial physical activity goal of 50 minutes a week and safely increase to 175 minutes a week. Researchers will conduct an evaluation to develop and disseminate sustainable obesity reduction strategies that have cost, organizational capacity, and program adaptation considerations.

Project Identifier Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research Center

Funding Source PRC Program

Project Status Active

Host Institution University of Pittsburgh

Health Topics Obesity | Physical activity

Research setting County or parish

Race or ethnicity No specific focus

Gender No specific focus

Age group Older Adults (50 years and older)

Contact Information Center
University of Pittsburgh Prevention Research Center
Center for Aging and Population Health
Graduate School of Public Health
130 N. Bellefield Ave., 4th floor

Principal Investigator
Anne Newman, MD, MPH

Co-Principal Investigator
Steven M. Albert, PhD