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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Text messaging based obesity prevention program for parents of pre-adolescent African American girls

Author
item Callender, Chishinga - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe

Submitted to: Children
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/29/2017
Publication Date: 12/4/2017
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5883108
Citation: Callender, C., Thompson, D.J. 2017. Text messaging based obesity prevention program for parents of pre-adolescent African American girls. Children. 4(12):105. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/children4120105.

Interpretive Summary: African American girls are at a greater risk of obesity, and parents play a key role in child obesity prevention. Programs are needed to help parents develop a healthy home environment. Mothers recommended and reviewed the content for a text messaging based program. Mothers owned cell phones, accessed the internet, and were interested in receiving text messages on healthy eating and physical activity. A total of internet 107 text messages were developed. The expert panel and the mothers reported positive reactions to the developed text messages. This research provides evidence that parents have constant access to technology and mobile health (mHealth) programs appeal to parents of African American girls.

Technical Abstract: African American girls are at a greater risk of obesity than their nonminority peers. Parents have the primary control over the home environment and play an important role in the child obesity prevention. Obesity prevention programs to help parents develop an obesity-preventive home environment are needed. The purpose of this study was to collect formative research from parents of 8–10-year old African American girls about perceptions, expectations, and content for a text messaging based program. Mothers (n=30) participated in surveys and interviews to inform message development and content. A professional expert panel(n=10) reviewed draft text messages via a survey. All the mothers reported owning a cellphone with an unlimited texting plan, and they used their cellphones for texting (90.0%) and accessing the Internet (100.0%). The majority were interested in receiving text messages about healthy eating and physical activity (86.7%). Interviews confirmed survey findings. One hundred and seven text messages promoting an obesity-preventive home environment were developed. The expert panel and parents reported positive reactions to draft text messages. This research provides evidence that mobile health (mHealth) interventions appeal to parents of African American girls and they have ready access to the technology with which to support this approach.