Daily text messaging for weight control among racial and ethnic minority women: randomized controlled pilot study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Daily self-monitoring of diet and physical activity behaviors is a strong predictor of weight loss success. Text messaging holds promise as a viable self-monitoring modality, particularly among racial/ethnic minority populations.


This pilot study evaluated the feasibility of a text messaging intervention for weight loss among predominantly black women.


Fifty obese women were randomized to either a 6-month intervention using a fully automated system that included daily text messages for self-monitoring tailored behavioral goals (eg, 10,000 steps per day, no sugary drinks) along with brief feedback and tips (n=26) or to an education control arm (n=24). Weight was objectively measured at baseline and at 6 months. Adherence was defined as the proportion of text messages received in response to self-monitoring prompts.


The average daily text messaging adherence rate was 49% (SD 27.9) with 85% (22/26) texting self-monitored behavioral goals 2 or more days per week. Approximately 70% (16/23) strongly agreed that daily texting was easy and helpful and 76% (16/21) felt the frequency of texting was appropriate. At 6 months, the intervention arm lost a mean of 1.27 kg (SD 6.51), and the control arm gained a mean of 1.14 kg (SD 2.53; mean difference -2.41 kg, 95% CI -5.22 to 0.39; P=.09). There was a trend toward greater text messaging adherence being associated with greater percent weight loss (r=-.36; P=.08), but this did not reach statistical significance. There was no significant association between goal attainment and text messaging adherence and no significant predictors of adherence.


Given the increasing penetration of mobile devices, text messaging may be a useful self-monitoring tool for weight control, particularly among populations most in need of intervention.

Trial registration

Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00939081; http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00939081 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6KiIIcnk1).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Steinberg, DM; Levine, EL; Askew, S; Foley, P; Bennett, GG

Published Date

  • November 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 11

Start / End Page

  • e244 -

PubMed ID

  • 24246427

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3841371

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1438-8871

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1439-4456

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2196/jmir.2844


  • eng