Obesity in Young Mothers

May 8, 2019

Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholar and Brown School Research Associate Professor, Rachel Tabak and her research team use a $3.3 million grant for a dissemination and implementation research study to address weight gain in young mothers. Tabak is a member of the Washington University Network for Dissemination and Implementation Research (WUNDIR), and a Center for Dissemination and Implementation Pilot grantee.

Rachel G. Tabak headshot

Rachel Tabak

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, “Disseminating & Implementing a Lifestyle Based Healthy Weight Program in a National Organization,” expands Tabak’s research by evaluating the implementation of a lifestyle modification intervention called HEALTH (Healthy Eating and Active Living Taught at Home). The study builds on a partnership with Parents as Teachers (PAT), a national community-based organization that provides parent-child education and services to families with young children through home visits. HEALTH is an intervention shown to prevent weight gain, promote sustained weight loss, and reduce waist circumference.

Mother and daughter participating in activities from the HEALTH intervention.

Parent educators at 28 PAT sites across the U.S. receive HEALTH training curriculum through the existing infrastructure at the PAT National Center (14 intervention, 14 delayed intervention). The research team will evaluate the impact of HEALTH and the HEALTH training curriculum (the implementation strategy) on weight among mothers with overweight or obesity, in addition to evaluating implementation outcomes such as feasibility and acceptability and implementation context among mothers, parent educators, and PAT sites.

Tabak has been involved in dissemination and implementation research since she arrived at Washington University. She first became interested in dissemination and implementation research as a result of her early experience developing and evaluating interventions to impact childhood obesity. Tabak says she “was interested in ways to expand the reach of interventions shown to be effective in our studies.” She saw D&I research as a means of reaching more people and widening both the scope and the impact of her work.

Research Assistant Professor, Brown School

Tabak’s involvement with the Institute for Public Health’s Center for Dissemination and Implementation dates back to the Center’s first Proposal Development Bootcamp, which she attended as both a participant and an expert reviewer. Tabak was also the recipient of a CDI pilot grant awarded for a project investigating context for implementation of evidence based interventions, also in collaboration with PAT. She even brought early drafts of the NIH grant proposal to WUNDIR meetings, where other D&I researchers provided valuable feedback.

Coupled with her commitment to dissemination and implementation science, Tabak’s study has the potential to make a significant impact in the lives of young mothers at risk for excessive weight gain by offering women nation-wide an evidence-based intervention.