The government is trying to encourage kids to exercise by contacting them in a way that is especially appropriate for the younger generation - text messages.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $379,500 on a Baylor University study to see if encouraging adolescents to engage in physical activities via text is a reliable strategy. The “Txt Me: Texting Motivational Messages Encouraging Adolescent PA” (physical activity) study began in January of 2011 and will run through the end of the year.
“The physical activity to be promoted is walking, which has broad appeal and can be performed as part of usual-day activities,” according to the Clinicaltrials.gov description of the study.
The grant for the study reads: “This application will test the feasibility of promoting PA to 14-17 year olds using text messages tailored to constructs from Self Determination Theory.”
As part of the study, adolescents receive pedometers to measure their steps and are also sent prompts for physical activity and motivational text messages.
“Promoting PA to adolescents in a manner that is familiar, convenient, and acceptable has the potential to increase PA, thus reducing risk of both obesity and chronic disease, such as certain cancers,” the NIH grant description says.
The project’s leader, Dr. Deborah Thompson of the Baylor College of Medicine, has not revealed details about the exact language that is incorporated into the texts, CNS News reported.
Inquiries directed to the NIH about the “TXT Me" study elicited the following response:
“NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”