Pilot Trial of Acceptance-Based Behavioral Weight Loss and Neurocognition Among American Indians

Misty A.W. Hawkins, Janna M. Colaizzi, Ashley B. Cole, Natalie G. Keirns, Caitlin E. Smith, Madison Stout, John Chaney, Manisha Sawhney, David Gahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Acceptance-based behavioral therapies (ABTs) for obesity may be superior to standard behavioral therapies but have not been adequately tested with American Indians (AIs). Neurocognitive function is also unexamined in relation to behavioral weight loss among AIs despite findings that neurocognition predicts outcomes in general samples, may help explain some of the benefits of ABTs, and may be relevant to marginalized groups. The primary objective of this pilot was to examine the feasibility/acceptability of ABT in an AI sample. Exploratory analyses examined the relationship between neurocognition and weight loss. Forty-eight AI adults with overweight/obesity (ages 43.3 ± 10.3 years, 85% female; baseline body mass index = 36.8 ± 4.4 kg/m2) enrolled in a 6-month open ABT weight loss trial. Feasibility indices, including screening/enrollment, session attendance, retention rates for posttreatment assessments, and program acceptability were examined. Percent weight loss (%WL) was assessed as well as fluid and crystalized neurocognition (National Institutes of Health Toolbox Cognition Battery [NIHTB-CB]). We enrolled 79% of the eligible sample and retained 75% (N = 36) at posttreatment assessments. Program completers lost an average of 5.2 ± 4.9% of initial body weight (dz = 1.14), whereas intent-to-treat analyses show a mean loss of 4.1 ± 4.7%. Participants reported high satisfaction, effectiveness, and cultural appropriateness. Exploratory analyses of neurocognitive domains suggested that crystalized cognition was higher among completers, and higher baseline cognitive flexibility predicted greater %WL (β = .34, p = .05). ABT resulted in clinically significant weight loss in an AI sample. A controlled trial of ABT in a larger, more diverse sample is warranted to determine whether (a) the findings are robust, generalizable, and/or superior to other treatments and (b) neurocognitive factors moderate outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-364
Number of pages15
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • acceptance-based behavioral weight loss
  • cognition
  • Native American
  • obesity
  • weight loss


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