People join weight loss support groups because being around others with the same problem helps strengthen a person's resolve to lose weight. Now, what if, instead of a personal goal of losing X number of pounds, the group developed a collective goal, and each person in the group only has to achieve a share of the group goal. U of H Health Education Professor Rebecca Lee says it makes achieving the goal a lot easier -- they think -- and that's why they're doing the study.
"It helps people to achieve their individual goals within this group context, because they feel as though they want to achieve the group norm, what everybody else is doing. Everybody kinds of wants to contribute to that shared goal. And this collective goal really seems to eliminate the social loafing."
Dr. Lee says they're focusing on African-American women, who tend to be less active physically, which makes them more vulnerable to obesity, and the health problems obesity causes.
"Like high blood pressure, and diabetes, and all of that then in turn creates a tremendous health burden for other members of the population."
Dr. Lee says they need about 70 African-American women age 25 to 60 for this study, which is called the STAR Project, Striding Together Achieving Results. Interested women can get more information by calling the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance at 713-743-1183. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.