MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- A behavioral intervention program helped low-income obese people lose a few pounds and improve their blood-pressure control, according to a two-year study.

The study, which appears online in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, included 365 obese patients receiving treatment for high blood pressure at three Boston community health centers. Most were women -- about 69 percent -- and about a third had less than a high school education. About 71 percent who participated in the intervention were black and 13 percent were Hispanic.

The patients were randomly assigned to continue with their usual care or to participate in a behavioral intervention program called Be Fit, Be Well, which included behavior-change goals, self-monitoring of progress via a website or interactive voice response system, 18 telephone counseling calls, 12 optional group support sessions, and community resource links.

After two years, the patients in the intervention program had lost an average of 2.2 pounds and their average systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood-pressure reading) was lower.

The researchers also found that blood-pressure control was more likely among patients in the intervention group than those in the usual-care group.

"Although six-month weight losses were modest, they were sustained for 24 months," the authors wrote.

"As a pragmatic effectiveness trial, our findings are arguably more generalizable to real-world health-center settings than are those of highly controlled efficacy trials with larger treatment effects," concluded Gary Bennett, of Duke University, and colleagues in a journal news release. "More work is necessary to best address the needs of socioeconomically disadvantaged patients who bear the greatest risk and disease burden of obesity."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains how to achieve weight loss for life.