Finding the motivation and confidence to make healthy lifestyle changes is a tough hill to climb for most people. For overweight, low-income women with young children, it can be a mountain. When researchers at The Ohio State University College of Nursing asked these women to identify the type of people they would want to hear from in videos promoting healthy lifestyle changes, the women said they wanted to be inspired by women like themselves. They wanted the truth about what it takes and how it can be done.

The researchers listened and designed a study to fit the wishes of women and recruited participants from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Women enrolled in the study were low-income mothers who ranged from slightly overweight to just below extreme obesity. These highly stressed women tended to eat high-fat foods.

The researchers enrolled 212 women, ages 18 to 39, into the study. The women were randomly placed into a group that watched videos of women like themselves give tips on meal preparation, managing stress and engaging in physical activity. These videos were designed to motivate the women and give them confidence based on success stories from women they could believe and identify with. In addition to watching 10 videos, the women participated in 10 peer-support teleconferences. The other women were placed into a group that got similar information, but only in the form of print materials.

At the end of the 16-week study, the researchers interviewed the women and asked about their motivation, confidence and diet. They found that the women who were in the video-and-teleconference group reported higher motivation, more confidence and a significant improvement in their diet, with less dietary fat.

Before the start of the study, women told the researchers that they wanted to be better role models for their children, have less stress and maintain healthy family relationships. This study suggests that with a little help from their peers, they can get there.

Source: The study “Mediators of Intervention Effects on Dietary Fat Intake in Low-income Overweight or Obese Women with Young Children,” led by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, Columbus, published in Appetite.