Obesity is common in older adults. As the baby boomer generation reaches old age, addressing this epidemic will become more urgent.  In older adults, obesity threatens mobility directly and indirectly through multiple chronic diseases such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and lipid disorders.  These conditions contribute substantially to disability.  The American Society for Nutrition, The Obesity Society, and the American Heart Association all recommend weight loss with exercise for the management of obesity in older adults.  The focus of this implementation project is to reduce obesity, disability and subsequent chronic disease in older adults.

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh PRC  adapted the Look AHEAD program into an evidence-based weight management intervention called the Mobility and Vitality Lifestyle Program (MOVE UP) and are implementing it in community settings. The Look AHEAD clinical trial, a weight loss and physical activity intervention, was highly effective in preventing disability in people with type 2 diabetes. MOVE UP participants  include men and women ages 60-75 with a BMI between 27-45. The goal is to implement MOVE UP  in approximately 26 sites in Allegheny County. Participants are recruited using recommendations from sites, newsletters or newsletter announcements, presentations at membership gatherings, targeted mailings to membership, and mailings to the population surrounding the site. MOVE UP programs are led by trained community health workers who are connected to their respective community site. The curriculum has a focus on key lessons around diet/nutrition and physical activity. An assessment of participants’ dietary intake and physical function is conducted at baseline, 5, 9, and 13 months using standard questionnaires and measures. Participants attend weekly  group sessions during the first 5 months, twice a month for the next 4 months, and monthly for the final 4 months. Participants are given curriculum handouts at each session and receive information on calorie control, nutrition, physical activity and exercise, as well as safety. For diet, participants are encouraged to consume 30% fewer calories from fat while maintaining an adequate protein intake. For physical activity, they are encouraged to achieve an initial physical activity goal of 50 minutes/week and safely increase to 175 minutes/week. Researchers  conduct an evaluation that informs the development of strategies for sustainability considering the cost of the program, organizational capacity, and program adaptation to inform future dissemination.


MOVE UP is currently recruiting for two programs. If you are interested please contact the Research Staff at the University of Pittsburgh, 412-383-1303.

Community Health Workers

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are integral to the success of MOVE UP. These compassionate and dynamic leaders have diverse backgrounds and skill sets. They work in the community coaching others how to modify their behaviors for a healthier lifestyle. Meet our CHWs below as we highlight our partners, the things they like about Pittsburgh and what motivates them as a CHW.

Homewood-Brushton YMCA - Bridget Parker

As a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, my favorite place is their campus because it provides me a place of comfort to reflect in the park, try a variety of foods and exercise with my dogs.

My passion in life is to improve people’s lives who suffer from health disparities that can be mitigated through education and physical activity. MOVE UP has helped me to live out my dream while also developing lasting relationships with the participants.

Sewickley Public Library and Vanadium Woods Village - Clair Cranville

My favorite place is Mount Washington with its spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh, the rivers and the surrounding neighborhoods.

As a CHW, I appreciate the opportunity to help seniors improve their overall health and well-being with a more healthy lifestyle by changing their eating and activity behaviors. I look forward to the weekly meetings with our good fellowship, often lively discussion, and sense of ‘community’, as our MOVE UP group shares common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Sampson Family YMCA - Coleen Bortz

Riverview Community Action Corporation (RCAC) Oakmont - Elaine Pruitt

My favorite place in Pittsburgh is the Strip District. There is so much cultural diversity and I can have food from all over the world!

The success of my participants motivates me the most. How they’ve made it [MOVE UP] a part of their life and how they value it.

Lutheran Service Society (Bellevue) - Holly Vazzo

Longwood at Oakmont Retirement Community - Jason Klein

My favorite place in Pittsburgh is PNC Park because there is nothing like a summer evening to watch baseball.

I like being a CHW because I want to help people be their best mentally, physically, and spiritually. As the saying goes, “live long, die short.”

Phipps Garden Center (Shadyside) - Lisa Pilewski

My favorite place in Pittsburgh is PNC Park because I love the atmosphere of the park, I love the Bucs, and I enjoy the memories of taking my family there for many special events since 2001.

I am so delighted to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Life is a gift and we need to take care of ourselves. Then, we can properly care for others.

Thelma Lovette YMCA - Meta B. Hord

My favorite places in Pittsburgh are probably the North Shore and Schenley park. Walking along the river (between town and the stadium) is such a beautiful site! I also love the Oakland area and Schenley park.

There are honestly so many reasons why I really enjoy being a CHW. I’d say the main reason is because of the positive effect the program I am delivering has on the participants. They’ve expressed to me on numerous occasions how transformed they are becoming from the program and it is such an amazing feeling knowing you played such a role. Also, for personal and professional/career-related reasons I have found being a CHW in the MOVE UP study to be extremely beneficial.

Kingsley Association (leads 2 groups) - Nina Wilson

My favorite place in Pittsburgh is at my home, with my two lovely dogs, creatively entertaining special guest.

These are words from my heart. I love being a CHW for MOVE UP because it’s nurturing to my soul. Knowing that I am making an impact on people’s lives by providing them with the proper tools to adapt a healthy active lifestyle makes my spirit very happy.

Lutheran Service Society (Bellevue) - Patricia Pacey

First Baptist Church of West Mifflin - Reverend A. Marie Walker

My two favorite places are my home church because of the fellowship of worship at my church and Mt. Washington because of the beautiful view of Pittsburgh.

I want to be a vehicle to help others my age focus on their health so that our lives can
continue to be productive.

C.C. Mellor Memorial Library of Edgewood - Annie Bontempo

My favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh is walk around the Highland Park reservoir.

I wanted to be a CHW to create a community space that facilitates healthy and lasting lifestyle changes. And it sounded fun!

Holy Sepulcher Church of Butler and Bellefield Professional Building of Oakland - Theresa A. Eury, BS, CHES

Favorites in Pittsburgh: PNC Park on a warm summer evening, the beautiful historic train stations, the coasters and merry-go-round at Kennywood. My favorites in North Pittsburgh: all of the access to farm fresh food, walking in Adams Twp. Park, outdoor dining/music at Narcisi Winery on a warm Sunday afternoon, Mars Annual Applefest

I have worked most of my years with intervention research projects at Pitt (Epidemiology) and VA (CHERP) (20+) and volunteered with veterans and other adult populations to motivate for healthy changes. I have a passion for guiding/involvement with folks to make even small changes for a healthier life. MOVE UP has given me the opportunity to explore/utilize my “inner health coach.” Assisting small groups or even one person to make healthy lifestyle changes is extremely rewarding! I am now leading a second MOVE UP group; all the participants have been wonderful to work with, and it is a privilege to be on this health journey with them.

Community Advisory Board

The CAPH-PRC aims to work in the community and with the community. The Community Advisory Board meets quarterly and works with PRC researchers and staff in the direction of the Center and MOVE UP, the Core Research Project. Community advisory board members bring a wide-range of expertise and experience in public policy, community mobilization and healthy aging. The PRC values the input of our advisory council. Meet the CAB below.

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Jane Brandenstein, PT
Retired physical therapist
Instructor Trainer
Arthritis Foundation “10 Keys”TM to Healthy Aging + exercise program

Anne Brucker, MEd
Exercise Physiologist, Professional Teacher and Program Director

Nancy Cunningham, MEd, RN, CSN
Retired Community Member
Volunteer, Center for Aging and Population Health-Prevention Research Center, University of Pittsburgh

Kimberly K. Delp RN BSN
Senior Director of Home & Community Services
Landmark Home Healthcare Inc.
Northern Area Companies

Leslie Dunn, MPH
Center Administrator
University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer Disease Research Center

Molly M. Eggleston, MPH, CPH, MCHES
Special Projects Manager
Allegheny County DHS/Area Agency on Aging

Robert Harper, MSIS
Retired Community Member

Karen Hoesch
Executive Director
ACCESS Transportation Systems

Dina Jones, PT, PhD
Department of Orthopaedics & Division of Physical Therapy
West Virginia University

Taafoi Kamara, MPH
Administrative Director
UPMC Aging Institute

Jason Klein
Wellness Coordinator
Longwood at Oakmont
MOVEUP Community Health Worker

JoAnn Kline
Director, North Side Healthy Active Living Center

Noble A-W Maseru, PhD
Visiting Professor
Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Director, Center for Health Equity
Associate Dean for Diversity, Office of the Dean
University of Pittsburgh

Elizabeth Mulvaney, MSW, LCSW
School of Social Work
University of Pittsburgh

Gretchen North, MA, MS, CHES
Vice President, Community Health & Wellness
YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh

Patricia Pacey
SilverSneakers® Instructor
PrimeTime Senior Center
MOVEUP Community Health Worker

Tracy Petras
Community Outreach Manager
UPMC McKeesport

Heather Sedlacko
Director, Programs for Seniors and People with Disabilities
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Lorraine Starsky, RN, BSN
Public Health Nurse
Chronic Disease Prevention Program
Allegheny County Health Department

University of Pittsburgh
Center for Aging and Population Health
130 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213