Understanding the impact of rural weight loss interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Gwenndolyn C. Porter, Karen Laumb, Tzeyu Michaud, Fabiana Brito, Daniel Petreca, Gina Schwieger, Todd Bartee, Karen H.K. Yeary, Paul A. Estabrooks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Rural adults have a higher risk of developing obesity than urban adults. Several evidence-based interventions have targeted rural regions, but their impact, defined as reach (number and representativeness of participants) by effectiveness, has not been examined. The purpose of this review was to determine the impact of rural weight loss interventions and the availability of data across dimensions of the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. A systematic review was conducted to identify rural weight loss interventions that targeted adults. RE-AIM-related data were abstracted from each article. We performed a meta-analysis to examine effectiveness. Sixty-four articles reported on rural weight loss interventions, describing 50 unique interventions. The median number of participants was 107. Median participation rate differed between values reported by the authors (62%) and values computed using a standard method (32%). Two studies reported on sample representativeness; none reported comparisons made between target and actual delivery settings. Median weight loss per participant was 3.64 kg. Meta-analyses revealed the interventions achieved a significant weight reduction, and longer-duration interventions resulted in greater weight loss. Rural weight loss interventions appear to be effective in supporting clinically meaningful weight loss but reach and cost outcomes are still difficult to determine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • RE-AIM
  • obesity
  • rural health
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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