Mobile Messages Motivate Dieters

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Smartphones help us fulfill all kind of tasks from buying movie tickets to sending e-mails, but could they help us shed pounds, too? A recent study set out to answer that very question.

Researchers divided overweight college students into three separate eight-week diet plans. The first group had a support group on Facebook where they had access to short, informative podcasts. The second group had access to the Facebook group as well as additional support through text message. The final group received no support via Facebook or text message.

The students who received encouraging text messages on their cellphones were most successful at losing weight. Three times a week, the dieters were texted reminders to send in information on their consumption and exercise. On the remaining four days, the dieters received personalized tips and pointers based on their responses, straight to their cell phones.

On average, the text message group lost about 5 pounds; the Facebook-only group lost about 1.4 pounds; and the group with no Facebook or text message assistance lost about a half pound.

The text messages served to imitate the face-to-face interaction between a dieter and a healthcare professional, and proved to be effective. In a culture where many of us are always within reach of our mobile devices, maybe text messages could provide additional support for people trying to slim down. Would mobile communication motivate you during a diet?

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