Research: Phone messaging may help maintain weight loss.


Phone SMS messaging of encouragement and tips can assist in maintain weight loss.

Cell Phone
Cell Phone

We are all looking for a way to help us keep the weight loss. Weight loss is possible for most but nearly all fail to keep it off or maintain the loss they have achieved. The problem is that the tendency to go back to old habits or status quo is too great to keep the weight loss once you have achieved your goal.

Our bodies lose weight rather easy. We create a deficit and the weight comes off. The problem is that the lose of weight creates an undeniable desire to eat. We give into the urge and th next thing we know, we have gain back all of the weight and more. The tendency of your body to go back to the old set point is just way too strong.

Many studies have looked at Short Message Service (SMS) or phone message delivered tips and encouragement to induce behaviour change have been observed to help with weight loss, but it has not been looked at for maintenance. This form of intervention could be perfect for maintenance and would be highly cost effective.

New research looked at SMS as a means to maintain weight loss.​[1]​ This systematic review examined the effectiveness of SMS-delivered behavior change interventions for weight management. The researchers looked at data in electronic databases from prior research studies. In each study, SMS-delivered adult weight management interventions to control groups. Weight change was examined using an analyses at intervention cessation and post intervention follow-up.

Subgroup analyses examined intervention duration, SMS frequency, theory use, SMS interactivity, and SMS tailoring. Fifteen studies were examined and they included 2,705 participants. The researchers found a number of studies that looked at weight maintenance with SMS use. For weight loss maintenance interventions the mean differences in weight change was nearly 2 pounds and post intervention follow-up that was essentially the same 2 pounds maintained.

The bottom line: SMS-delivered behaviour change interventions for weight loss led to significant small to moderate weight loss and weight loss maintenance compared to control groups. More research is needed to look at a longer study in a larger group. Evidence on long-term effects is limited. SMS-delivered behaviour change interventions could be a potentially effective and scalable intervention option for obesity treatment. I would like to see one delivered by friends and loved ones.


  1. [1]
    R. Skinner, V. Gonet, S. Currie, P. Hoddinott, and S. Dombrowski, “ A systematic review with meta-analyses of text message-delivered behaviour change interventions for weight loss and weight loss maintenance,” Psychology, Jan. 2020 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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