Texting young people motivates healthy options

An Australian-first trial will use mobile technology to help teenagers lose weight, boost their self esteem and lead healthier lives, reports the Herald Sun, February 29, 2012.
Associate Professor Joanne Williams a Researcher at the Centre for Adolescent Health and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said of the research project; “They’ve all got phones, it’s how they communicate with their friends, it’s just a little message in the middle of the day to keep their mind on track” . During the project young people aged between 12 and 17 will be sent motivational messages during the 12-week online program.

Participants will have their height, waist circumference and blood pressure monitored when they join the study and after 3, 6 and 12 months. Associate Professor Williams said the program would use the traffic light labelling system to educate teenagers on healthy food choices.

 “We try to get them to increase their serves of green foods and decrease their intake of red foods,” she said. A confidential chat room will be set up to allow participants to log their food diary and record activity levels.

Airbrushed images of celebrities will be shown to help banish body image battles. “We show them that even so-called famous people don’t look like that in real life, you shouldn’t be aspiring to an unrealistic image, everybody is different, focus on the positive pieces of their body.”

The programs’ approach, which is based on cognitive behaviour therapy, also has sections dealing with bullying and peer pressure. “It’s teaching them better coping skills and emotional support while they try to make healthier choices and increase their physical activity.”

A further article can be found in Australian Food News 

Researchers are recruiting 550 Victorian teenagers to take part in the trial. For more information call: 03 9345 6954 or email: stayingfit@mcri.edu.au

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