If you like texting and are
trying to lose weight, a new study found that using texting to track diet and
exercise habits may help you shed pounds.
Previous research has shown
that keeping food and exercise diaries improves the likelihood of success when
trying to shed excess weight. Using a computer or pen and paper to record
information, however, can be a burden and cause some people to give up.
Duke University researchers
said using text messages to stay on top of eating and exercise habits can save
time and increase the chances that people will stick with their weight-loss
The study included 26 obese
women with an average age of 38. The women used daily texting as part of their
weight-loss programme. The text messages focused on tracking personalised goals,
such as avoiding sugary drinks or walking 10 000 steps a day. Messages also
provided brief feedback and tips.
Every morning, the women
received a text from an automated system that said, "Please text
yesterday's # of steps you walked, # of sugary drinks and if you ate fast
food." Based on the women's responses to the text message, the system sent
another text with personalized feedback and a tip.
Tracking of behaviours
After six months, the women
who used daily texting lost an average of nearly 3 pounds, while another group
of women who used traditional methods to keep food and exercise diaries gained
an average of 2.5 pounds, according to the study, which was published online in
the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
"Text messaging has
become ubiquitous and may be an effective method to simplify tracking of diet
and exercise behaviours," study author Dori Steinberg, a postdoctoral obesity
researcher in the Duke Obesity Prevention Programme, said in a university news
Steinberg said text
messaging offers several advantages compared to other self-monitoring methods.
Unlike Web-based diet and exercise diaries, data in a text message can be
entered quickly on nearly all cell phone platforms. This provides more
portability, nearly real-time tracking and more accessibility for receiving
And because of the limited
number of words used in text messages, it saves time and is not as mentally
demanding, Steinberg said.
The US National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases outlines how to choose a safe
and successful weight-loss programme.