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Text messages help you lose weight

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Texting can help you lose weight says new study.

When it comes to weight loss, find out how texting can help you reach your goals.


If you want to lose weight, Duke University researchers say that texting to keep a record of what you eat and how much you exercise can be an effective tool in the battle of the bulge.

Although prior research shows that using a diary to track your daily food intake and exercise improve your chances of losing weight, writing all that information down on paper or typing it into a computer can be a lot of work.

Using text messages, however, is a more convenient time-saving way to keep on top of your food and fitness records, according to a new study recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, which found that texting increased the likelihood of sticking to a diet plan to shed unwanted pounds.

The study, conducted at Duke University, involved a group of 26 women who were obese with an average age of 38. The group was put on a weight-loss program and instructed to use text messages to record how much they ate and exercised each day, while focusing on their own personal goals, such as exercising an extra 5 minutes with each passing day or not having any dessert.

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Additionally, the women received texts offering tips and other feedback in response to the information they recorded. They also got a text each morning from an automated system that reminded the women of their personal weight-loss goals, as well as customized feedback based on what the women previously kept track of via text.

Six months later, the women who recorded their daily food and exercise diary via text messages, lost about 3 pounds on average, compared with a different group of women who actually gained an average of 2.5 pounds after using more traditional diaries to keep track of their eating and exercising

Study author Dori Steinberg, a researcher in the Duke Obesity Prevention Program, said that text messaging is essentially easier and more efficient for tracking daily food and fitness diaries. She added that texting provides numerous advantages to traditional diaries for self-monitoring.

Steinberg pointed to Internet-based weight management diaries, explaining how you can record data in a text message more easily since most mobile phones allow for texting; thus, enabling real-time tracking and personalized feedback based on what data is put into the text. Plus, she said that texting usually only allows for a limited number of words, so it saves time without requiring much mental energy.

SOURCE: Journal of Medical Internet Research, "Daily Text Messaging for Weight Control Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Women: Randomized Controlled Pilot Study", November 18, 2013.