Using Cell Phone To Combat Obesity - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/21/06

Using Cell Phone To Combat Obesity

If you've got a youngster in the house who is begging for a cell phone this might be a reason to give in and get one.

It sounds far fetched, but researchers at the University of North Carolina are testing cell phone text messaging as something kids love to do as a way kids might enjoy keeping track of their eating and exercise habits.

Nine-year-old Julia Beckham and her mom, Emma, were among the study groups using cell phones to improve their health. Every day, they text messaged diet and exercise information.

"That information would go into a computer and they would get an automatic feedback signal telling them how they did," said Cynthia Bulik, a researcher at the University of North Carolina.

Messages that encouraged them to cut back on sugary drinks and screen time and to get moving. Studies are ongoing but already researchers say the test messaging group spent much less time in front of the TV or computer. Researchers are now planning to test text message monitoring in people with eating disorders something that is already being done in Germany among patients with anorexia and bulimia.

The research was presented at the International Conference on eating disorders in Barcelona Spain, June 2006. For more information go to the research tab of www.unceatingdisorders.org and www.getkidsinaction.org.

The prevalence of overweight is increasing in children. Although family-based behavioral interventions are effective, there are several barriers to implementation. Technology-enhanced interventions appear to be effective and desirable approaches to health care.

This pilot study developed and tested the feasibility, acceptability, attrition, and adherence to mobile phone text messaging (SMS) as a means of monitoring healthy behavior in children and to preliminarily explore efficacy in promoting behavior change. 

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