Are interventions for weight management in adolescents delivered via text messages effective? A systematic review

Stephanie Ruth Partridge, Rebecca Raeside, Anna Singleton, Karice Hyun, Julie Redfern

Research output: Other contributionDiscipline Preprint RepositoryResearch



Incidence of obesity among adolescents is increasing. Text messages are a primary communication form for adolescents and potentially a scalable strategy for delivering population health interventions.


To determine the effectiveness of text message interventions on body mass index (BMI) in adolescents and describe characteristics that are common to effective interventions.


Systematic review including: (i) randomised controlled trials of text message lifestyle interventions; (ii) participants are adolescents 10-19 years; and (iii) outcomes focussed on obesity prevention or management. Primary outcome was objective or self-report change in BMI.


In total, 4362 records were identified, and 215 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Eight unique studies were identified, including 767 participants, mean age 14.3±0.9 years, BMI 29.7±1.6 kg/m-2 and 53% female (31-100%). All interventions were multi-component. The median active intervention period was 4.5 months. During active and extended intervention phases, text messages accounted for >50% (8 studies) and >85% (3 studies) of contact points, respectively. Text messages were heterogeneous, with a median of 1.5 text messages sent per week (range: 1-21). Four studies utilised two-way text message communication with health-professionals. Seven of the eight studies demonstrated reductions in BMI or BMI z-score in the intervention group compared to the control at the end of the final follow-up. The effect was only statistically significant in one study at 6-months. Over 6-months, reductions in BMI (kg/m-2) ranged from 0.6-4.5% and BMI z-score ranged from 4.2-28.1%. Overall quality of the studies was low.


Further research is required to elucidate the effectiveness, and potential impact of text message interventions on weight and weight related-behaviours in adolescents. Clinical Trial: PROSPERO CRD42018109197
Original languageEnglish
PublisherJMIR Preprints
Number of pages56
Publication statusSubmitted - 12 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


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