Australian study to use text messages and online chat as means to tackle teenage obesity

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 1st March 2012

An Australian-first obesity study will use the internet and mobile technology to try and help teenagers lose weight.

Participants will be recruited from across Melbourne and will have their height, weight, blood pressure and waist circumference measured both when they join the study and also after three, six and 12 months.

The study is being undertaken by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), a health research organisation based in Victoria. Researchers are recruiting 550 Victorian teenagers between the ages of 12 – 17 to take part in the trial. Teenage participants will be required to undertake 12 hourly online sessions and their parents will be sent regular newsletters on how they can support their teenager.

The teenages will be sent motivational messages during the 12-week online program. A confidential chat room will be set up to allow participants to log their food diary and record activity levels.

The MCRI’s Associate Professor, Joanne 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. “The programs will teach them ways to manage nutrition, exercise, weight and to improve body image.”