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Text Clients Toward Weight Loss

by Sandy Todd Webster on Jan 15, 2014

Food for Thought

Not everyone uses text messages, but for those who do, fitness professionals can harness the power of technology to help clients get healthier, say researchers at Duke University.

Scientists followed 50 obese women who received either a daily text for weight loss intervention or used more traditional methodology, such as written food journals or computer-tracked journaling. Over 6 months, the 26 subjects in the texting group lost an average of 3 pounds, whereas the 24 who journaled more traditionally actually gained 21⁄2 pounds.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (2013; 15 [11], e244), the text messages zoned in on tracking behavioral goals such as walking 10,000 steps per day and avoiding sugary drinks. Automated texts asked the women to provide progress reports on the number of steps they’d taken that day or how many sugary drinks they’d consumed. When a study participant replied, the response system sent back a personalized message and a tip.

“Text messaging holds promise as a self-monitoring modality for weight control, particularly among groups most at risk for obesity-related morbidities,” concluded the authors. “Given that the majority of evidence indicates that greater adherence leads to better outcomes, our study suggests that health-based approaches to self-monitoring may enhance engagement and reduce the burdens commonly associated with other modes. Our intervention was relatively low intensity and has greater potential for dissemination compared to higher intensity interventions. As technology penetration increases in the target population, the use of this modality will become increasingly relevant and helpful as an intervention too for weight control."

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 11, Issue 2

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL, the health and fitness industry's leading resource for fitness and wellness professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering appro