We conducted a community-based anti-obesity programme using mobile phone short message service (SMS) messaging. A total of 927 participants were recruited and visited a public health centre for initial assessment. Mobile phones were used to deliver short messages about diet, exercise and behaviour modification once a week. After a 12-week anti-obesity programme they visited the public health centre again. Four hundred and thirty-three subjects (47%) successfully completed their weight control programme. There were mean reductions of weight, waist circumference and body mass index of 1.6 kg (P < 0.001), 4.3 cm (P < 0.001) and 0.6 kg/m(2) (P < 0.001), respectively. Over two-thirds of the subjects had a reduction in waist circumference of 5-7.5 cm. A post-intervention survey showed that the majority of participants were satisfied with the weekly SMS messages and information brochures delivered by post. SMS messaging may be an effective method of behaviour modification in weight control and anti-obesity health education programmes when promoted by community health centres.