Sisters Taking Action for Real Success (STARS)

FUNDING SOURCE: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (R01) 2007-2012



This project took a comprehensive approach to behavior change that gave attention to individual attitudes and skills, sociocultural factors, and environmental barriers and supports to behavior change, including economic barriers. The intervention promoted behavioral skills and social support for success given the array of personal, social, environmental, and economic challenges to healthy eating and PA and engaged women in group-based identification of barriers and problem-solving. Women ages 25 to 50 in the intervention group received an initial diet and PA counseling session, followed by 16 weeks of group behavioral/support sessions and 8 weeks of a maintenance intervention (weekly professional contact via telephone). The goal was at least a 10% weight loss, at a rate of one to two pounds per week, depending on the woman's starting weight. The "usual care" control group received the same initial diet and exercise counseling session as the intervention group.

During the 16 weeks of the intervention period, the control group received women's health education materials (no diet or exercise information) in the mail, and during the maintenance phase, one brief telephone contact. Immediate and delayed post-measures at 16, 26, and 45 weeks assessed immediate intervention effects and long-term maintenance, with and without contact from professionals.

PRIMARY AIM of this community-based, randomized controlled trial was to test the effects of 16 weeks of a behavioral/social support intervention on body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference compared to a usual-care control group.

SECONDARY AIMS: a) test the effects of the 16-week intervention on physical fitness, PA level, total energy intake, % caloric intake from total fat, saturated fat and trans fat, fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake, self-efficacy for healthy diet and PA, social support for diet and PA, and behavior skills for healthy diet and exercise; b) test the effects of 8 weeks of a telephone-contact maintenance intervention on primary and secondary outcomes; and c) assess long-term maintenance of primary and secondary outcomes 18 weeks after the end of the maintenance intervention phase (45 weeks' posttest).


Sharpe, P.A., Whitaker, K., Alia, K.A., Wilcox, S., Hutto, B. (2016). Dietary intake, behaviors and psychosocial factors among women from food-secure and food-insecure households in the United States.  Ethnicity and Disease, 26(2), 139-146. PMID: 27103763. PMCID: 4836893.

Baruth, M., Sharpe, P.A., Magwood, G., Wilcox, S., Schlaff, R.A. (2015). Body size perceptions among overweight and obese African American women. Ethnicity & Disease, 25(4):391-398. PMID: 26674119. PMCID: 4671444.

Baruth, M., Sharpe, P.A., Parra-Medina, D., Wilcox, S. (2014). Perceived barriers to exercise and healthy eating among women from disadvantaged neighborhoods: Results from a focus groups assessment. Women and Health, 54(4), 336-353. PMID: 24617795. PMCID: 4058907.

Whitaker, K.M., Sharpe, P.A., Wilcox, S., Hutto, B.E. (2014). Depressive symptoms are associated with dietary intake but not physical activity among overweight and obese women from disadvantaged neighborhoods. Nutrition Research, 34, 294-301. PMID: 24774065. PMCID: 4004962.

Wilcox, S., P.A. Sharpe, et al. (2013). Frequency of consumption at fast-food restaurants is associated with dietary intake in overweight and obese women recruited from financially disadvantaged neighborhoods. Nutrition Research, 33(8), 636-46. PMID: 23890353. PMCID: 3758906.

Baruth, M., P.A. Sharpe, et al. (2013). Patterns of sedentary behavior in overweight and obese women. Ethnicity & Disease, 23(3), 336-42. PMID: 23914420. PMCID: 3761397.

Wilcox, S., P.A. Sharpe, et al. (2011). A randomized trial of a diet and exercise intervention for overweight and obese women from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods: Sisters Taking Action for Real Success (STARS). Contemporary Clinical Trials, 32(6), 931-45. PMID: 21864718. PMCID: 3204793.

Sharpe, P.A., Wilcox, S., Rooney, L.J., Strong, D., Hopkins-Campbell, R., Butel, J., Ainsworth, B., Parra-Medina, D. (2011). Adherence to accelerometer protocols among women from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8(5), 699-706. PMID: 21734316. PMCID: 3142748.

Sharpe, P.A., Burroughs, E.L., Granner, M.L., Wilcox, S., Hutto, B.E., Bryant, C.A., Peck, L., Pekuri, L. (2010). Impact of a community-based prevention marketing intervention to promote physical activity among middle-aged women. Health Education and Behavior, 37(3), 403-23. PMID: 19875639.