Using facebook and text messaging to deliver a weight loss program to college students

Journal Article

Objective: Between 31 and 35% of the college-aged population is overweight or obese, yet few weight loss trials for this population have been conducted. This study examined the feasibility, acceptability, and initial efficacy of a technology-based 8-week weight loss intervention among college students. Design and Methods: Students (N = 52) were randomly assigned to one of the three arms: Facebook (n = 17); Facebook Plus text messaging and personalized feedback (n = 18); Waiting List control (n = 17), with assessments at 4 weeks and 8 weeks (post-treatment). Participants were 20.47 ± 2.19 years old, 86.45 ± 17.11 kg, with a body mass index of 31.36 ± 5.3 kg/m2. Participants were primarily female (86.5%), and the sample was racially diverse (57.7% Caucasian, 30.8% African American, 5.8% Hispanic, and 5.7% other races). Results: The primary outcome was weight loss after 8 weeks (post-treatment); 96.0% of the participants completed this assessment. At 8 weeks, the Facebook Plus group had significantly greater weight loss (-2.4 ± 2.5 kg) than the Facebook (-0.63 ± 2.4 kg) and Waiting List (-0.24 ± 2.6 kg) (both Ps < 0.05). Weight change at 8 weeks was not significantly different between the Facebook and Waiting List groups. Conclusions: Results show preliminary efficacy and acceptability of the two active intervention arms (97.0% found the program helpful, 81.3% found the videos/handouts helpful, and 100% would recommend the program to others). Results indicate the potential for an innovative weight loss intervention that uses technology platforms (Facebook and text messaging) that are frequently used and already integrated into the cultural life of college students.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Napolitano, MA; Hayes, S; Bennett, GG; Ives, AK; Foster, GD

Published Date

  • 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 25 - 31

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1930-7381

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/oby.2012.107