for females ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Dara H Sorkin, Ph.D.Karen S Rook



Mexican American women have significantly elevated rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The proposed study tests a novel intervention that capitalizes on an existing important family dyad (mothers and their adult daughters) to foster clinically significant and long-lasting health behavior change. If found to effective, this intervention strategy has great potential to address health disparities in this, and other, at-risk populations.


Approximately half of Mexican-American women report having a sedentary lifestyle, and nearly 78% are overweight or obese. Compared to women in all other ethnic groups, Mexican-American women have the highest lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes. The development of culturally appropriate lifestyle interventions for this population is an urgent priority, and the proposed study accordingly will investigate a novel dyadic intervention designed to improve health behaviors and promote weight loss in two at-risk members of the same family: mothers with type 2 diabetes and their overweight/obese adult daughters who are at risk for developing diabetes. The intervention, Unidas por la Vida (United for Life), capitalizes on the importance of the family in Latino culture to mobilize an existing family dyad as a source of mutual support that is likely to foster greater and longer-lasting health behavior change. The study builds on a successful pilot study (R34 DK083500) that established the feasibility and acceptability of this dyadic behavioral lifestyle intervention in a high-risk sample of Mexican-American family members who share a risk for diabetes and its complications. The 16-week intervention was modeled after the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), but was adapted for use with mother daughter pairs and to be community-based and, thus, more easily accessible to low-income Latinas. Preliminary data from the Unidas pilot study indicated that the dyadic intervention promoted significant weight loss. The proposed study extends the successful pilot study to: 1) target weight loss > 5% of baseline body weight and to foster maintenance using a tapered intervention, 2) add comparison groups that permit evaluation of the improvement uniquely associated with the partner intervention, and 3) assess theoretically derived mediators of the intervention. Participants (N=460 mother-adult daughter dyads) will be randomized into one of three conditions: 1) dyadic (mother-daughter) participation in a Unidas partner intervention (Arm 1); 2) individual participation (mothers alone; unrelated daughters alone) in a Unidas individual intervention (Arm 2); and 3) mother-daughter dyad in a usual care only condition (Arm 3).


Diabetes, Obesity, Overweight, Dyadic lifestyle intervention, Individual lifestyle intervention


You can join if…

Open to females ages 18 years and up


  1. Are Mexican-American
  2. Are age 18 and older
  3. Have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 kg/m2 and 43 kg/m2.
  4. Are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  5. Live within a 25 mile radius of your adult daughter
  6. Are fluent in either Spanish or English as your primary language
  7. Are able to understand and sign an informed consent

Adult daughters:

  1. Are Mexican-American
  2. Are age 18 and older
  3. Have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 kg/m2 and 43 kg/m2.
  4. Live within a 25 mile radius of your mother
  5. Are fluent in either Spanish or English as your primary language
  6. Are able to understand and sign an informed consent

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Are male
  2. Have a visual or hearing impairment, documented psychiatric and/or life-threatening illness that precludes the ability to participate in a weight loss program and/or provide consent.
  3. Are a mother with diabetes who is not able to start an exercise regimen or are likely to be injured (e.g., have uncontrolled high blood pressure).
  4. Are pregnant or become pregnant during the course of the study.

Lead Scientists at UC Irvine


accepting new patients by invitation only
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Irvine
Study Type
Expecting 920 study participants
Last Updated