Health In Focus
  • Weight loss through diet and exercise is only half the battle
  • Half of the lost weight can be regained within a year
  • A simple commitment text message could help keep the weight off

Overweight and obese people get into serious dieting and exercise programs to shed their extra kilos. But, the difficult task of a weight loss program is to maintain the new weight. Most people who lose weight, eventually, regain half of the lost weight within a year. But a new study claims that a simple commitment text helped obese teenagers to keep their lost weight off. The text message reminded teenagers to eat a bowl of cereal or fruit for dessert to help them maintain their weight.
Text Messages Could Help Dieters Maintain Their New Weight
Text Messages Could Help Dieters Maintain Their New Weight

The rates of obesity is increasing drastically among adolescents. Eighteen percent of the teenagers between the ages 12 and 19 are obese. Obesity increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and reduces life expectancy.

The modern day of living involves a gadget for almost all the activities. Everyone owns a smartphone and the healthcare industries have targeted fitness and health through mobile applications. But a simple text message could also be beneficial to help someone become fit and healthy.

Commitment Text Messages

Behavioral interventions that help people maintain weight loss are important. Weight is commonly regained regardless of the interventions people use for weight loss, whether it is exercise, diet or drugs. Simple text messages can change teenagers' behavior and help them prevent regaining the lost kilos back.

Ivo Vlaev, Professor of Behavioral Science at Warwick Business School, said, "Therefore, finding effective interventions to maintain the new lower weight is crucial for the long-term success of the interventions and their health. Stable weight in growing adolescents with obesity is associated with an improvement in cardiovascular risk factors and reduces the risk of them developing other problems due to obesity, such as diabetes or osteoarthritis"

A 12-week pilot trial was conducted among teenagers who attended an eight-week weight loss camp offered by MoreLife. Teenagers who had achieved similar weight loss were split into two groups of 13 and 14.

Teenagers in group one had lost 2.63 kilograms on an average. Participants in group one received text messages that contained useful information such as advice about weight loss management. Teenagers in group two had lost 2.32 kilograms on an average. They received text messages asking them to commit to an action such as: "Can you promise to eat 30 grams of cereals each morning before school? Please text back CAMP followed by Yes or No to 8810."

The subsequent messages to the commitment group were just a reminder. For example: "Are you managing to eat cereals in the morning? Text back CAMP followed by Yes or No to 8810."

The findings of the study showed that the body mass index (BMI) of commitment in the 'commitment group' remained the same. However, the BMI of teenagers in the 'information only group' increased. The analysis of the data showed that teenagers in the information group were nearly eight times more likely to regain the lost weight than those in the commitment group.

"The results of the current trial with adolescents are clinically important and unique," said Professor Vlaev.

"Commitment devices are just one type of behavioral intervention healthcare workers can use to help adolescents maintain their recent weight loss. The results of this study are encouraging and are certainly worth exploring further as there could serious health benefits for people trying to lose weight at very little extra cost," added Professor Vlaev.

The study, "The use of commitment techniques to support weight loss maintenance in obese adolescents," is published in the European Health Psychology Society.

Source: Medindia

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