Project Overview +

Short, tailored text messages are sent to obese adolescents that address five evidence-based weight-related behavioral domains: 

  1. reduction of screen time, 
  2. regular consumption of a healthy breakfast, 
  3. decreased consumption of sweetened beverages, 
  4. decreased consumption of fast food, and 
  5. increased consumption of fruit and vegetable. 

Texts include highly tailored messages, targeted messages and reminders.

Aims +

Aim 1. Develop tailored text messages on five evidence-based weight-related topics, that are sent to the cellular phones of obese adolescents as an adjunct to an intensive multidisciplinary behavioral weight management program.

Aim 2. Develop a computer application to (a) send tailored text messages on a regular schedule to cellular phones and to (b) receive text responses from participants.

Aim 3. To pilot and feasibility test the text messaging intervention developed in Aims # 1 and 2 in 10 obese adolescents enrolled in the University of Michigan Pediatric Comprehensive Weight Management Program.

Aim 4. Write and submit a NIH career development proposal to conduct a larger trial, ultimately leading to an RO1 application to perform a randomized controlled study of this intervention

Participants +

Newly enrolled participants in the MPOWER program offered through the Pediatric department (13-17 year old English speakers with a BMI in the 95 percentile or higher)

Intervention +

Participants receive text messages daily for 3 months. The messages are highly tailored on 3 days each week, and on the remaining days the messages are targeted only to personalized demographic variables and reminders. The content and the delivery schedule of the messages is determined by the participants' responses to the baseline survey.

Findings +

  • Participants were enthusiastic about the program.
  • Participants found the messages to be personally relevant.
  • Participants reported that their favorite messages were meal suggestions and recipe ideas.
  • The tailoring application performed flawlessly, delivering all messages on schedule.

Conclusion +

Computerized tailored text messaging is a feasible adjunct to multidisciplinary obesity treatment. Adolescents perceived the intervention as an enjoyable means of improving their adherence to healthy lifestyle practices. 

Further work is required to evaluate the effect of the tailored text messages intervention on weight loss and the possibility of adapting the technology for use in the treatment of other chronic conditions.


09/01/2007 - 03/31/2010

Principal Investigator:

Susan J. Woolford, MD, MPH