The teens also appreciated the occasional fun fact not necessarily related to health some bit of trivia they could share with their friends, like the fact that carrots were originally purple or that ears of corn have an even number of rows.
And they didn't want to be inundated with texts no more than two a day.
Hingle, a registered dietitian, says she sees text messaging as a potentially valuable supplement to in-person nutrition education and fitness programs for teens.
"A lot of the previous interventions that have been developed in nutrition are very top-down, in that we're the experts and we're telling people what to do," Hingle said. "We didn't want to do that in these text messages, and we didn't think it was very effective, so we had kids at every step of the process working with us to help us to come up with topics and refine the voice and style."
Now that researchers know teens are open to receiving health information via text, it could pave the way for the development of future text message-based programs.
"When we started, we didn't even know if this was a good idea because phones are used to contact your friends and for social engagements, not about educational messages," said Mimi Nichter, UA professor of anthropology and co-author of the study.
"What we, as anthropologists, wanted to know about the culture of kids was: What does health mean to them, and given that, what do you offer them? What's palatable for them, not just for the mouth, but for their way of thinking?" said Nichter, who has for years studied body image, food intake and dieting among teens.
The texting study was part of a larger USDA-funded study at the UA exploring how mobile technology may be used to promote healthy lifestyles for teens. The interdisciplinary project, dubbed "Stealth Health," has u
|Contact: Melanie Hingle|
University of Arizona