by Renata Smith, MPH
Diverse populations, including adolescents, people with low income, and those in developing countries, have readily adopted mobile technology and text messaging. As a result, more research has turned to the use of text messaging as a delivery mode for disease prevention or management interventions, especially for these traditionally harder to reach populations. Text messaging has been shown to be a successful tool in smoking cessation and diabetes management, and researchers in the field of obesity prevention have begun to use it with hopes of similar success.
Does Text Messaging for Weight Loss Work?
Text messaging can be interactive, tailored, and widespread, enabling a wider reach of health practitioners, especially for vulnerable populations and to those without adequate healthcare. Studies to date, as summarized in the meta analysis, are promising but limited by a short duration of follow-up.
Is text messaging the future for interventions to change behavior?
The primary barrier in weight loss is weight maintenance; many successful interventions have had limited long-term results. Is mobile technology a long-term solution, or a temporary reprieve from the grip of chronic disease? That is the big question that still needs to be answered. As mobile technology and mobile health continue to saturate the world, we must have long term studies that give us an important verdict on this question.