Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

‘TXT2BFiT’ a mobile phone-based healthy lifestyle program for preventing unhealthy weight gain in young adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Lana Hebden1*, Kate Balestracci1, Kevin McGeechan2, Elizabeth Denney-Wilson3, Mark Harris4, Adrian Bauman2 and Margaret Allman-Farinelli1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

2 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia

3 Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2008, Australia

4 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052, Australia

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Trials 2013, 14:75  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-75

Published: 18 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Despite international efforts to arrest increasing rates of overweight and obesity, many population strategies have neglected young adults as a target group. Young adults are at high risk for unhealthy weight gain which tends to persist throughout adulthood with associated chronic disease health risks.

Methods/design

TXT2BFiT is a nine month two-arm parallel-group randomized controlled trial aimed at improving weight management and weight-related dietary and physical activity behaviors among young adults. Participants are recruited via general practice (primary medical care) clinics in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. All participants receive a mailed resource outlining national physical activity and dietary guidelines and access to the study website. Additional resources accessible to the intervention arm via the study website include Smartphone mobile applications, printable handouts, an interactive healthy weight tracker chart, and a community blog. The study consists of two phases: (1) Intensive phase (weeks 1 to 12): the control arm receives four short message service (SMS) text messages; the intervention arm receives eight SMS messages/week tailored to their baseline stage-of-change, one Email/week, and personalized coaching calls during weeks 0, 2, 5, 8, and 11; and (2) Maintenance phase (weeks 14 to 36): the intervention arm receives one SMS message/month, one Email/month and booster coaching calls during months 5 and 8. A sample of N = 354 (177 per arm) is required to detect differences in primary outcomes: body weight (kg) and body mass index (kg/m2), and secondary outcomes: physical activity, sitting time, intake of specific foods, beverages and nutrients, stage-of-change, self-efficacy and participant well-being, at three and nine months. Program reach, costs, implementation and participant engagement will also be assessed.

Discussion

This mobile phone based program addresses an important gap in obesity prevention efforts to date. The method of intervention delivery is via platforms that are highly accessible and appropriate for this population group. If effective, further translational research will be required to assess how this program might operate in the broader community.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000924853

Keywords:
Young adult; Mobile phone; Text messaging; Intervention studies; Weight loss; Overweight; Primary healthcare