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Texting Could Help Spread the Word on Teen Health

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy lifestyle text messages could help improve teens' eating and exercise habits, a new study suggests.

University of Arizona researchers conducted a one-year trial involving 177 teens in order to find out their preferences for healthy lifestyle text message content, format, style, origin, frequency and mode of delivery.

The results showed that the participants liked an active style that referenced teens and recommended specific, achievable habits that were sent from nutrition professionals, according to the study in the January/February issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Many experts believe that current programs to prevent teen obesity have limited, short-lived success, according to study author Melanie Hingle. Such programs rely on nutrition and fitness education programs delivered in schools.

Hingle said new age-appropriate and teen-targeted approaches are needed, and the widespread use of smartphones among teens offers an ideal way to encourage them to adopt healthy habits.

High school students consume an average of 1.2 fruit and vegetable servings per day, which is far below the recommended five servings, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research also suggests that teens receive an average of 3,417 text messages a month, or 114 tests per day, a journal news release pointed out.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers a health guide for teens.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, news release, Jan. 9, 2013

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