A novel approach to increasing community capacity for weight management a volunteer-delivered programme (ActWELL) initiated within breast screening clinics: a randomised controlled trial

Annie S. Anderson (Lead / Corresponding author), Huey Yi Chong, Angela M. Craigie, Peter T. Donnan, Stephanie Gallant, Amy Hickman, Chloe McAdam, Jennifer McKell, Paul McNamee, E. Jane Macaskill, Nanette Mutrie, Ronan E. O'Carroll, Petra Rauchhaus, Naveed Sattar, Martine Stead, Shaun Treweek

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Background: It is estimated that around 30% of breast cancers in post-menopausal women are related to lifestyle. The breast cancer-pooling project demonstrated that sustained weight loss of 2 to 4.5 kg is associated with an 18% lower risk of breast cancer, highlighting the importance of small changes in body weight. Our study aimed to assess the effectiveness a volunteer-delivered, community based, weight management programme (ActWELL) for women with a BMI > 25 kg/m 2 attending NHS Scotland Breast Screening clinics.

Methods: A multicentre, 1:1 parallel group, randomised controlled trial was undertaken in 560 women aged 50 to 70 years with BMI > 25 kg/m 2. On completion of baseline measures, all participants received a breast cancer prevention leaflet. Intervention group participants received the ActWELL intervention which focussed on personalised diet advice and pedometer walking plans. The programme was delivered in leisure centres by (the charity) Breast Cancer Now volunteer coaches. Primary outcomes were changes between groups at 12 months in body weight (kg) and physical activity (accelerometer measured step count).

Results: Two hundred seventy-nine women were allocated to the intervention group and 281 to the comparison group. Twelve-month data were available from 240 (81%) intervention and 227 (85%) comparison group participants. Coaches delivered 523 coaching sessions and 1915 support calls to 279 intervention participants. Mean weight change was − 2.5 kg (95% CI − 3.1 to − 1.9) in the intervention group and − 1.2 kg (− 1.8 to 0.6) in the comparison group. The adjusted mean difference was − 1.3 kg (95% CI − 2.2 to − 0.4, P = 0.003). The odds ratio for losing 5% weight was 2.20 (95% CI 1.4 to 3.4, p = 0.0005) in favour of the intervention. The adjusted mean difference in step counts between groups was 483 steps/day (95% CI − 635 to 1602) (NS).

Conclusions: A community weight management intervention initiated at breast screening clinics and delivered by volunteer coaches doubled the likelihood of clinically significant weight loss at 12 months (compared with usual care) offering significant potential to decrease breast cancer risk. Trial registration: Database of registration: ISCRTN. Registration number:11057518. Date trial registered:21.07.2017. Date of enrolment of first participant: 01.09.2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • body weight
  • lifestyle
  • Intervention screening
  • Physical activity
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Breast cancer body weight lifestyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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