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Texting can help reduce diabetes risk


Texting helps to motivate people for positive behavioral changes that reduces the diabetes risk

textWashington: Researchers have found an innovative simple tool that may help decrease one’s risk for diabetes: Text messages on your cell phone.

Participants in a free mobile education program, piloted in Detroit and Cincinnati last year, said the customized texting service ‘txt4health’ made them more aware of their diabetes risk and more likely to make diet-related behavior changes and lose weight.

“We found that this method of health intervention had potential to significantly influence people’s health habits and have great reach – however, sustained participant engagement across the 14 weeks was lower than desired,” said lead author Lorraine R Buis, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

“It’s clear that a text message program may not be appropriate for everyone; however, for a large subset of people, this may be a feasible, acceptable, and useful strategy to motivate positive behavior changes,” said Buis.

Most participants reported that after completing the program, they were more likely to replace sugary drinks with water (78 per cent) and have a piece of fresh fruit instead of dessert (74 per cent).

They also reported they were more likely to substitute a small salad for chips or fries when dining out (76 per cent), buy healthier foods when grocery shopping (80 per cent), and eat more grilled, baked, or broiled foods instead of fried (76 per cent).

The majority of survey respondents also reported that text messages were easy to understand (100 per cent), that the program made them knowledgeable of their risk for developing type 2 diabetes (88 per cent) and more aware of their dietary and physical activity habits (89 per cent).

The txt4health initiative is a large, public health focused text message-based program that aims to raise type 2 diabetes risk awareness, as well as facilitate weekly weight and physical activity self-monitoring to lower diabetes risk.

The findings appear in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.


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