Text4Diet: a randomized controlled study using text messaging for weight loss behaviors

Prev Med. 2012 Nov;55(5):412-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.08.011. Epub 2012 Aug 27.


Objective: Text-messaging shows promise as a health intervention. This randomized controlled trial evaluated a daily text-messaging weight loss intervention.

Methods: Overweight and obese adults (n=170) in California were randomized to receive daily interactive and personally weight-relevant text-messages or monthly e-newsletters. Participants were measured at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Group differences were assessed in weight loss. Relation of text-messaging adherence to weight loss and change in pedometer steps was examined.

Results: There were no group differences in weight loss over 6 (1.53 lb vs 3.72 lb) or 12 months (2.27 lb vs 3.64 lb; control vs intervention). Text-messaging adherence was moderately strong (60-69%). Participants with greater adherence lost more weight at 6 (p=.039) and 12 months (p=.023) than those who were less adherent. Intervention participants' steps increased almost 3000 steps/day over time (p<.05), and higher step counts were associated with greater weight loss (p<.05). Text-messaging satisfaction was moderate to high, and pedometer-related satisfaction was associated with greater weight loss (p<.05).

Conclusions: Although text-messaging had no effect on weight, adherence was associated with improvement in weight-related behaviors and weight outcomes. Text-messages could be a useful adjunct to weight loss treatments.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Exercise
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Overweight / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Social Support*
  • Text Messaging*
  • Weight Loss*