Donaldson, Fallows and Morris
Weight management interventions can be extended using mobile telephone technology to deliver support in real-time, real-world settings. The present study aimed to determine whether text messaging helped patients maintain or lose weight following a weight-loss programme.
In this controlled study, overweight and obese [body mass index (BMI) >30 kg m–2 or >28 kg m–2 with co-morbidities] adults who completed a weight-loss programme participated in an additional 12-week text message intervention [Lifestyle, Eating and Activity Programme (LEAP) Beep]. Patients were allocated goals for steps, fruit, vegetable and breakfast consumption. Patients regularly ‘texted’ their progress and received tailored practitioner feedback. Pre/post-intervention body weight, waist circumference (WC), BMI, quality of life (QOL), anxiety and depression measurements were compared retrospectively with a control group offered weight checks only.
Compared to control (n = 17), the intervention group’s (n = 17) body weight, WC and BMI reduced significantly (−1.6 versus 0.7 kg,P = 0.006; −2.2 versus 1.5 cm, P = 0.0005; −0.6 versus 0.7 kg m–2, P = 0.03, respectively). QOL and depression scores also improved (−6.8 versus 1 point, P = 0.134; −0.2 versus 0.2 points, P = 0.228). No difference was observed in anxiety scores between the groups. Intervention versus control group follow-up attendance improved significantly (4.4 versus 1.7 attendances, P = 0.0005).
LEAP Beep promoted losses in weight, WC and BMI, and improved QOL parameters and follow-up attendance. Text messaging is a cheap, portable, convenient and innovative medium facilitating goal setting, self-monitoring and information exchange. Further improvements to automation at the same time as maintaining individual support are necessary to ease practitioner burden. Text messaging offers cost-efficient dietetic input, opening up possibilities for practitioner-to-patient support and yields positive weight outcomes following initial weight loss.