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Socioeconomic Disparities in Weight and Behavioral Outcomes Among American Indian and Alaska Native Participants of a Translational Lifestyle Intervention Project

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To investigate possible socioeconomic disparities in weight and behavioral outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) participants in a translational diabetes prevention project.

Research design and methods

We analyzed data from the Special Diabetes Program for Indians Diabetes Prevention (SDPI-DP) Program, an evidence-based lifestyle intervention to prevent diabetes in 36 AI/AN grantee sites. A total of 2,553 participants started the 16-session Lifestyle Balance Curriculum between 1 January 2006 and 31 July 2008. Linear mixed models were used to evaluate the relationships of participant and staff socioeconomic characteristics with weight and behavioral outcomes at the end of the curriculum.


A strong, graded association existed between lower household income and less BMI reduction, which remained significant after adjusting for other socioeconomic characteristics. Compared with others, participants with annual income <$15,000 also had less improvement in physical activity and unhealthy food consumption in bivariate models, but the relationships were only marginally significant in multivariate regressions. Furthermore, grantee sites with fewer professionally prepared staff were less successful at improving participant BMI and healthy food consumption than the other sites. The strong association between income and BMI reduction was reduced by 20-30% in the models with changes in diet variables but was unrelated to changes in physical activity.


Significant socioeconomic disparities exist in weight outcomes of lifestyle intervention at both participant and site staff levels. Helping low-income participants choose more affordable healthy foods and increasing the proportion of professionally trained staff might be practical ways to maximize the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions implemented in "real-world" settings.

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