Text messages may be enough to encourage people to change their behaviors in healthful ways.
A recent study showed text messages sent through mobile health technology such as smartphone SMS, tablets and apps may help in diabetes prevention. These messages can make recommendations about healthful behaviors. Examples include when a person should exercise, how to eat the right amount of fat, and to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Those behaviors are all very important – particularly when combined – to reduce the risk of diabetes.
The study was conducted by researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois. A team led by Angela Fidler Pfammatter, one of the university’s assistant professors, performed the research. It found mobile health technology has profound diabetes prevention implications for many people. The mhealth features were particularly promising for people in lower and middle-income countries.
Fidler Pfammatter explained that “The study shows the potential for even the most basic of mobile phones to be used as a viable tool to deliver public health messages on a large scale across a diverse population.”
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The mobile health technology study was conducted on one million people living in India.
The research revealed that almost 40 percent of people who received texts that reminded them of healthful behaviors improved their lifestyles. These individuals took on more healthful lifestyle habits as a result of receiving the texts. Among them, 299,000 showed improvement within the experimental group. Comparatively, 185,000 improved in the control group.
Residents of India are at the highest risk of developing diabetes when they are in their 30s and 40s. This is about a decade sooner than the highest risk period among Americans. This, according to an article published in the Journal of Medical and Internet Research. That paper also underscored the fact that about 66 million people are currently living with that disease. It kills about a million people on an annual basis.
For that reason, tools such as mobile health technology could prove to be very meaningful in reducing the or at least delaying the onset of this disease. Options such as informational texts are very inexpensive to provide and offer multi-operating system compatibility.