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Text Messaging Helps Kids Fight Off Obesity

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Check out this new study.

kid texting on his cellphone in the grass

Kids are sending and receiving text messages more than ever -- sometimes to the great annoyance of their parents. But now a new study from the University of North Carolina suggests texting could be used to reduce children's chances of becoming obese later in life -- here's how.

Recent studies show that approximately 19% of youths aged 6 to 11 are overweight, and that 80% of overweight adolescents become obese adults.

For children and adults who are trying to lose weight, keeping track of their calorie intake and body weight with a traditional pen and paper diary is a good way ensure the long-term success of weight loss. But in this information age, researchers noticed a difference. The study found that kids between the ages of 5 and 13 were more successful moderating their calorie intake and physical activity if they self-monitored via text messaging.

All of the children in the study were given pedometers to track their physical activity, as well as were asked to keep track of how much TV they watched and the amount of sugary drinks they consumed per day. The study results, published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education, suggest that texting is more effective for children trying to lose weight because this kind of self-monitoring seemed fun and less like work.

"This fascinating study suggests that if children self monitor their daily physical activity, screen time, and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by texting the information and receiving a reply in return, they are more likely to stick with a program of healthier living," says momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. "This, in turn, may actually reduce their risk of going on to being overweight adults. Texting is a part of their everyday lives, and these kids have come to expect immediate replies to their messages. Wouldn't it be amazing if simple technology could take advantage of this expectation and use it to improve childhood health? This study suggests that it could."

Do you think texting could fight child obesity?

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