MPOWERed Messages II: Using Tailored Text Messages to Impact Weight Loss among Obese Adolescents

Faculty Contact: Susan J. Woolford, MD, MPH

The prevalence and severity of childhood obesity continues to worsen, with more adolescents at risk of becoming severely obese adults and of developing a myriad of obesity-related illnesses. Finding effective methods to treat this epidemic is vital to the health of millions of American children. Multidisciplinary behavioral programs offer promise as a means of promoting lifestyle changes leading to weight loss. While these programs have been shown to be modestly successful, they face problems of poor adherence and high attrition rates. It is probable that interim contact with patients, providing frequent tailored feedback on behaviors and reinforcing the messages provided during the in-person clinic sessions, would impact adherence and attrition by stimulating patient engagement.

The extensive use of mobile phones by adolescents makes it likely that incorporating them into weight management programs for adolescents may offer an acceptable way of providing this interim contact.

The objective of this project is to develop tailored text messages (TTM) to be delivered via mobile telephones to obese adolescents enrolled in the Michigan Pediatric Outpatient Weight Evaluation and Reduction (MPOWER) program. The use of tailored text messages as an adjunct to clinic visits in this multidisciplinary weight management program, presents a promising means of achieving interim contact, potentially increasing adherence and decreasing attrition among adolescents in the program. Therefore, the specific aims for this project are:

  1. To develop tailored messages on six evidence-based weight-related behaviors, to be sent to the mobile phones of obese adolescents as an adjunct to an intensive multidisciplinary weight management program.
  2. To evaluate the acceptability and relevance among adolescents in a weight management program,of specific types of tailored messages that emphasize personalization, feedback and content matching.
  3. To test under field conditions the feasibility and acceptability of using a computer application to automatically deliver tailored messages to adolescents in a weight management program.
  4. To pilot test the intervention developed through Aims 1-3, to assess its impact on adherence, attrition, and BMI among adolescents enrolled in a weight management program, as well as its cost-effectiveness.

This is a five year project funded by an NIH K23 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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) Unit
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