Moving Forward: A Weight Loss Program for African American Breast Cancer Survivors


Moving Forward aims to improve the health and survival of African American women who have been treated for breast cancer.


Breast cancer (BC) survival rates are significantly lower for African American (AA) women compared to European American (EA) women even after controlling for age, socioeconomic status, tumor stage at diagnosis, hormone receptor status, histology, and menopausal status. This disparity is particularly evident in Chicago where mortality rates for AA women exceed those for EA women by 116%. Not only are AA women with BC more likely than EA women to die from their cancer, they are also more likely to die from comorbid conditions including diabetes and hypertension. Poor diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity contribute to breast cancer progression and the development and exacerbation of many comorbid conditions.

Efforts to reduce the high mortality rates observed in AA women with breast cancer are critically needed. Addressing poor diet, lack of physical activity, and high rates of obesity may provide the best near-term opportunity to decrease breast cancer and all-cause mortality among AA BC survivors. Although several studies have examined weight loss interventions among EA BC survivors, no interventions developed specifically for AA BC survivors have been examined.

Moving Forward is a six-month cognitive-behavioral community-based weight loss intervention that was developed in collaboration with AA BC survivors. This randomized intervention study will examine the effects of Moving Forward, compared to a general health intervention, on body-mass index and behavioral, biological, and psychosocial outcomes in 240 obese AA women diagnosed with Stage I, II, or III breast cancer. We have partnered with the Chicago Park District (CPD) to implement the study within six predominantly AA Chicago communities. In addition to having an experienced, interdisciplinary study team, this project has several other strengths including innovation in its focus on weight loss in AA BC survivors; the potential for having a positive impact on morbidity and mortality related to breast cancer and comorbid conditions among AA BC survivors; and the potential for sustainability within CPD community programs.

Research Partner(s)

Chicago Park District

Funding Agency

National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (Grant No. R01CA154406)


Principal investigator
Melinda Stolley, PhD


Richard T. Campbell, PhD
Giamila Fantuzzi, PhD
Ben Gerber, MD, MPH
Angela Odoms-Young, PhD
Lisa K. Sharp, PhD

Start date
End date
Total award
About this grant

This research builds on previous work.

Related publications

Springfield S, Odoms-Young A, Tussing-Humphreys LM, Freels S, Stolley MR. A step toward understanding diet quality in urban African-American breast cancer survivors: A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Moving Forward Study. Nutr Cancer. 2019 Feb 18:1-16. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2018.1557217.

Sheean P, Arroyo C, Woo J, Schiffer L, Stolley M. Prevalence and predictors of low serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D among female African-American breast cancer survivors. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018 Apr;118(4):568-577. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.10.009.

Stolley M, Sheean P, Gerber B, Arroyo C, Schiffer L, Banerjee A, et al. Efficacy of a Weight Loss Intervention for African American Breast Cancer Survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Aug 20;35(24):2820-2828. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.71.9856.

Sheean P, Liang H, Schiffer L, Arroyo C, Stolley M. Examining the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among overweight/obese African-American breast cancer survivors vs. matched non-cancer controls. J Cancer Surviv. 2017 Feb;11(1):102-110. doi: 10.1007/s11764-016-0566-z.

Sheean P, Liang H, Schiffer L, Arroyo C, Troy K, Stolley M. Assessing the prevalence of compromised bone health among overweight and obese African-American breast cancer survivors: a case-control study. J Cancer Surviv. 2016 Feb;10(1):21-30. doi: 10.1007/s11764-015-0448-9.

Stolley MR, Sharp LK, Fantuzzi G, Arroyo C, Sheean P, Schiffer L, Campbell R, Gerber B. Study design and protocol for Moving Forward: a weight loss intervention trial for African-American breast cancer survivors. BMC Cancer. 2015 Dec 29;15:1018. doi: 10.1186/s12885-015-2004-4.

Stolley MR, Sharp LK, Oh A, Schiffer L. A weight loss intervention for African American breast cancer survivors, 2006. Prev Chronic Dis. 2009 Jan;6(1):A22.


News releases