Predictors of Behavioral Obesity Treatment Outcomes (REBOOT)

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Behavioral: Behavioral weight loss treatment

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Socioceconomically disadvantaged individuals typically have poor outcomes in behavioral weight loss interventions, but the reasons for this are unknown. This project will characterize the mechanisms through which adverse daily experiences and present bias -- a cognitive adaptation to harsh and unpredictable environments -- account for disparities in weight loss outcomes.

Full description

Individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) lose only half as much weight in behavioral weight loss interventions as those of higher SES. This is a clinically meaningful difference in outcomes that has been consistently documented. The overarching aim of this project is to identify the mechanisms that account for SES-related disparities in behavioral weight loss outcomes, which would enable the development of more effective obesity treatment approaches for lower SES populations. One potential mechanism is present bias, which is a tendency to focus on one's immediate needs that may result from exposure to harsh and unpredictable environments. Present bias is a compelling candidate as a mechanism of SES-related disparities in weight loss outcomes because it is much more pronounced in lower SES populations, and it has been linked to obesity risk, maladaptive eating behaviors, and poor diet quality. A second set of potential mechanisms includes adverse daily experiences such as stress, cognitive demands, and exposure to tempting foods. Stress and cognitive demands are more prevalent or severe in the lives of lower SES populations, and can disrupt the executive functions that are important for adhering to weight control behaviors during obesity treatment. This project will allocate equal numbers of subjects of lower and higher SES to a standard-of-care weight loss intervention. Importantly, the SES groups will be balanced with respect to ethnic/racial minority status. Weight loss outcomes and adherence to three key weight control behaviors (dietary lapses, dietary self-monitoring, and physical activity) will be rigorously measured across six months of follow up. Individual differences in present bias will be thoroughly assessed at baseline. Ecological momentary assessment will be used to capture exposure to adverse daily experiences, as well as momentary changes in present bias. Aim 1 is to test whether present bias accounts for SES-related disparities in behavioral weight loss outcomes and adherence to key weight control behaviors. Aims 2a and 2b will characterize the role of adverse daily experiences in SES-related disparities in weight loss outcomes and adherence to weight control behaviors, both overall and among present-biased individuals in particular. Aim 3 is to explore the contribution of race to SES-related disparities in weight loss outcomes, which has been challenging to elucidate in prior studies due to significant confounding of race and SES at the societal level. The results of this study could lead to a new understanding of how socioeconomic disadvantage impacts adherence to behavioral treatment for obesity, and suggest entirely new treatment approaches focused on mitigating present bias or delivering tailored intervention content during "moments of risk" for lapses in adherence.


230 estimated patients




18+ years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  1. Age ≥18 years old
  2. Obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2)
  3. Meets criteria for either the lower SES or higher SES cohort

Exclusion criteria

  1. Not fluent in English
  2. Change in income or financial assets exceeding ±75% of federal poverty guideline within the past 12 months, or expected in the next 6 months, if this change would result in reclassification on SES.
  3. Previous or planned bariatric surgery, or concurrent engagement in other behavioral or pharmacological treatment for obesity
  4. Resides more than 20 miles away from Rush, or planning to move outside of this geographic area during the study period
  5. Body mass index ≥60 kg/m2, due to increased injury risk with exercise
  6. History of bariatric surgery, or current engagement in another weight loss therapy
  7. Lack of reliable access to cell or landline phone
  8. Medical contraindications to treatment, including osteoporosis, cognitive impairment (Montreal Cognitive Assessment ≤25), active substance abuse based on the World Health Organization's ASSIST screener, lack of physician clearance for participation, or serious medical illness (e.g., stage 3 or 4 heart failure, cancer, renal failure, etc.)

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Single Group Assignment


None (Open label)

230 participants in 1 patient group

Standard-of-care behavioral weight loss treatment
Other group
6-months of group-based behavioral weight loss treatment following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prevent T2 curriculum.
Behavioral: Behavioral weight loss treatment

Trial documents

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Bradley M Appelhans, PHD

Data sourced from

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