Texting to a slim down

By | Science & Technology
Credit: Morhealth

Scientist Dori Steinberg researched using text messaging for tracking diet and physical exercise may help people to get slimmer. It is proven keeping a food diary may be one of the most effective ways to be healthy and keep the body in shape.

The researchers at Duke University say that tracking information about meals with the help of text messages might save time and make people stick to their slimming routine. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, showed 26 women who used texting for keeping their food diary got slimmer by nearly 3 pounds, while the other 24 women who were trying to get slimmer with traditional methods gained 2.5 pounds.

Fifty women took part in the research, with an average age of 38. The researchers recruited women with a body index greater than 25 kg/m2 putting them in the bracket of obese. “Given the increasing utilization of mobile devices, text messaging may be a useful tool for weight reducing, particularly among populations most in need of weight-loss treatment,” Steinberg said.

The participants were using a fully automated system which included daily SMS. Each woman had a set behavior change goal to achieve, such as decreasing sugar consumption or reducing in carbohydrates. It included brief feedback and tips via text messages or email. For instance, once a day participants received a text said something like “Please text yesterday’s # of steps you walked, # of sugary drinks, and if you ate fast food.” Depending on how they responded, the automated system sent out  personalised feedback and some advice on the diet.

The main task of the self-monitoring weight improvement system is to change behavioral habits. For instance, when a woman tends to eat after she’s faced an alarming situation, the food consuming becomes an element of her emotion relief habit. In order to change this, keeping a food diary might show women where exactly they tend to consume unnecessary products and what exactly may be the reason.

Diet-tracking mobile apps and web-based slimming programs are only easy to access if participants have expensive devices. However texting-based systems may be entered rapidly on any mobile phone and far from require 3G or Wi-fi, which makes it an affordable slimming method. The number of words in the texts has been limited by 20 words. This reduces the detail and therefore makes it more effortless for participants to maintain reporting on their diet. “Text messaging has become ubiquitous and may be an effective method to simplify tracking of diet and exercise behaviors,” said lead author Dori Steinberg. Further research may be focused on maintaining the weight with the help of text messaging.

How might self-monitoring texting help women to succeed in getting slimmer?

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