Research: Text messages may help with weight loss.


Reminders for healthy lifestyles may assist with weight loss.  

The United States and the world have experienced a dramatic increase in obesity rates.  The CDC, NIH, and World Health Organization all consider obesity to be one of the larges health concerns for the 21st century.  The point is that excessive fat accumulation around our waists is going to have a significant impact our health and will become a huge financial burden as it beings to pile up health care costs.   Medical professionals and researchers continue to look for new treatments to assist those suffering from this plight, and one new study shows the promise of text messages.  The use of text messages as an intervention is particularly significant because it allows the medical community to reach into the life space of patients that was not accessible in the past.  This cell phone messaging has been used in the past to remind patients of appointment time, but could it be used for treatment.  

Despite the existence of text messages for over 20 years, few studies have evaluated whether weight loss and a healthy lifestyle can be promoted in overweight adults through the use of a text message-based intervention.   The first one I found was from 2009.  The study, “A Text Message-Based Intervention for Weight Loss: Randomized Controlled Trial,” was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research with the purpose of evaluating a text message-based intervention designed to help individuals lose or maintain weight[1].  The study enrolled a group of 75 men and women in a randomized trial that lasted four months.  The subjects were randomized into two groups, and both were given monthly printed materials about weight control, but the intervention group was sent a personalized SMS and MMS messages sent two to five times daily and brief monthly phone calls from a health counselor.  The study found that the intervention group that received the text messages lost neal 2 Kg more over 16-week study than the control group.  

Other studies have found similar results since this article was published([2],[3],[4],[5]).   Another study showed not only a higher weight loss, but also a higher retention rate of 64%[6].  If you stay on you diet, you will be mroe likely to meet you goal.  

The bottom line: Text messages might prove to be a productive means to promote behaviors that support weight loss in overweight adults.  Additional studies have confirmed the results of this study.  


K. Patrick et al., “A Text Message–Based Intervention for Weight Loss: Randomized Controlled Trial,” J, vol. 11, no. 1, p. e1, Jan. 2009. [Source]
R. Shaw and H. Bosworth, “Short message service (SMS) text messaging as an intervention medium for weight loss: A literature review,” Health Informatics J, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 235–250, Dec. 2012. [PMC]
M. C. Carter, V. J. Burley, C. Nykjaer, and J. E. Cade, “Adherence to a Smartphone Application for Weight Loss Compared to Website and Paper Diary: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial,” J, vol. 15, no. 4, p. e32, Apr. 2013. [Source]
H. Cole-Lewis and T. Kershaw, “Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management,” E, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 56–69, Mar. 2010. [Source]
P. McCoy, S. Leggett, A. Bhuiyan, D. Brown, P. Frye, and B. Williams, “Text Messaging: An Intervention to Increase Physical Activity among African American Participants in a Faith-Based, Competitive Weight Loss Program,” I, vol. 14, no. 4, p. 326, Mar. 2017. [Source]
J. B. Griffin, B. Struempler, K. Funderburk, S. M. Parmer, C. Tran, and D. D. Wadsworth, “My Quest,  an Intervention Using Text Messaging to Improve Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors and Promote Weight Loss in Low-Income Women,” J, vol. 50, no. 1, p. 11–18.e1, Jan. 2018. [Source]
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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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