Location Initiated Individualized Texts for African American Adolescent Health (LIITA3H)

Faculty Contact: Susan J. Woolford, MD, MPH


The obesity epidemic in the US has disproportionately affected African American (AA) adolescents who have a prevalence of obesity that is almost 50% higher than that of their Caucasian peers. This higher prevalence is due in part to greater exposure to, and higher consumption of, fast food and calorie dense foods among minority populations than their majority peers. Finding effective ways to address dietary habits affecting childhood obesity in general and in African American adolescents particularly is vital to averting the magnitude of obesity-related illnesses and the associated costs that are likely to cloud the future of American children. 
Youth consume a significant proportion of their calories during school, often from two sources 1) school meals and 2) other eating venues (e.g., fast food restaurants, convenience stores) near schools. For AA adolescents, school-related food choices are uniquely impacted by economic and environmental factors. Specifically, many receive free/reduced meals, thus packing a lunch is often difficult and selecting from the options at school is the most feasible approach. Furthermore, a significant number of AA adolescents live and attend school in low-income communities with a disproportionally high prevalence of surrounding fast food restaurants and convenience stores. Better ways to help AA adolescents make healthy choices in these obesogenic environments is critical to reduce the disparity between them and their peers.  
Proposed Intervention:

The LIITA3H intervention will include 3 components: 1) Personal Geo-location mobile technology to identify when students are in their school cafeteria or other eating venues with an “intent to eat”; 2) Culturally and individually tailored text messages to promote healthy choices in these venues; and 3) Messages delivered to students when they are in eating locations and a mechanism for them to respond with information about their eating experience such as an annotated photo of their selection.

Specific Aims: 

Aim 1: To develop an integrated mobile phone application that will a) accurately identify when students are in their school cafeteria or other eating venue, b) automatically deliver a tailored text message that prompts healthy choices, and c) receive a photo of food choices annotated with the user’s health rating of the food.
Aim 2: To develop a message library adapted from the previously tested MPOWERed Messages library that can be tailored to students’ food preferences, the menu options from their school and fast food venues, and incorporate cultural tailoring with input from the target population.
Aim 3: To explore, in a 1-month pilot, the acceptability, feasibility and use of the intervention developed in Aims 1 and 2, via usage data collected by the application plus semi-structured interviews with participants and with school personnel who might speak to any disruption to school functioning encountered during the pilot.  

This project is funded through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

For more information, please contact:
Principal Investigator: Susan J. Woolford, MD, MPH
University of Michigan
Division of General Pediatrics
Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Center
300 North Ingalls Building, Room 6D21
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456
Telephone: (734) 615-8214
Fax: (734) 764-2599
Email: swoolfor[at]med.umich[dot]edu