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A Picture May be Worth a Thousand Words: Obese Adolescents' Perspectives on a Modified Photovoice Activity to Aid Weight Loss

Date: June 11, 2012

Journal: Childhood Obesity (Child Obes)

Woolford, S. J., S. Khan, et al. (2012). "A Picture May be Worth a Thousand Texts: Obese Adolescents' Perspectives on a Modified Photovoice Activity to Aid Weight Loss." Child Obes 8(3): 230-236.


Background: In an effort to enhance the vividness and personal relevance of a text messaging intervention to promote weight loss among obese adolescents, a modified Photovoice process was evaluated with adolescents in a weight management program.
Methods: Photovoice is a method using photography to generate relevant images and stories from users. Participants were recruited from the Michigan Pediatric Outpatient Weight Evaluation and Reduction (MPOWER) program, a multidisciplinary weight management program for obese adolescents and their parents. Twenty-three adolescents with a mean BMI of 40 were asked to take pictures on three to five randomly assigned weight-related topics, such as “something that reminds you to exercise,” and to
text them to a research assistant. Adolescents then engaged in semistructured interviews about the experience. Detailed notes of the interviews were analyzed to identify themes.
Results: Participants generally provided high ratings of the process, indicating that (1) deciding what pictures to take caused them to reflect on their weight loss experience, and (2) a mobile intervention incorporating personally relevant images (e.g., basketball as their favorite sport rather than sports in general) would increase treatment adherence. The submitted photographs frequently featured family members and friends, and participants indicated that family and friends played a major role in motivating and supporting them.
Conclusions: This study suggests that a Photovoice component has the potential to enhance weight management programs for teens as part of a text messaging intervention and as an independent entity. Further work should evaluate the effect of this promising intervention on weight loss.