R U eating healthy 2day? New study highlights effectiveness of healthy lifestyle text messages for teens

January 9, 2013, Elsevier

According to the Nielsen consumer research group, teens receive an average of 3,417 text messages per month (that's 114 texts per day!). Couple this with CDC's report that high school students' consumption of fruit and vegetables is, on average, 1.2 times per day (much lower than the recommended 5 a day) and it makes sense to start using text messages to inform teens about health. In a new study released in the January/February 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, it was found that, in order to inform and motivate teens, text messages should address the reality of today's adolescent lifestyles.

The findings from this study were based on a one-year testing period involving 177 teens. During this year, researchers at the University of Arizona explored teens' preferences for message content, format, style (or message ''voice''), origin, and frequency and mode of message delivery. From the pilot test of their text messages, the researchers found that teens liked an active voice that referenced teens and recommended specific, achievable behaviors sent from nutrition professionals.

Melanie Hingle, Ph.D., MPH, RD, University of Arizona, discusses the effectiveness of using text messaging to engage adolescents in ‘‘conversations’’ about health using a familiar communication method -- that is in 160 characters or less! Credit: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

According to study's lead author, Melanie Hingle, PhD, MPH, RD, University of Arizona, "The current consensus is that intervention programs targeting adolescents combat obesity with limited, short-lived success. The majority of traditional approaches employed to date have relied on expert-led fitness and nutrition education programs delivered within the school setting. New approaches are needed to effectively engage teens in age appropriate, teen-centric, relevant activities that can be sustained beyond traditional health promotion settings. The ubiquity of among adolescents offers an engaging, youth-friendly avenue through which to promote healthy behaviors."

This study demonstrates a novel way in which to engage adolescents in ''conversations'' about health using a familiar communication method – that is in 160 characters or less!

Explore further: Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

More information: "Texting for Health: The Use of Participatory Methods to Develop Healthy Lifestyle Messages for Teens," by Melanie Hingle, PhD, MPH, RD; Mimi Nichter, PhD; Melanie Medeiros, MA; and Samantha Grace, BA, appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 45, Issue 1 (January/February 2013)

Related Stories

Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

May 24, 2011
Text messaging and adolescents don’t always mix well, but researchers at National Jewish Health hope text messages can spur teenagers to take their asthma medications more reliably. The study is testing whether health ...

Driver distraction: Do as I say, not as I do (or what you think I do)

November 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—While it may come as no surprise that parents who talk on cell phones, send texts or eat and drink while driving have teenagers who are more likely to do the same, what teens think their parents do behind ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.