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Text messaging helps kids fight the flab - study

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Are you a fat teenager? Then pick up your mobile and text yourself thin, tubby - a study has concluded that texting helps kids to shed those extra pounds.

For three weeks the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine asked 58 children, aged between five and 13, to cut down on sugary snacks, reduce their TV time and increase their physical activity levels.

Kids were split into three groups, with those in one asked to report their daily activity time, snack intake and TV time back to the study’s monitoring team by text message. The team then sent the kids back a motivational message along the lines of: “Wow, you met your step and screen time goals – congratulations!”

Children in the other two groups either recorded their daily fat stats on a scrap of paper or didn’t monitor them at all.

According to Jennifer Shapiro, assistant professor of psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine and the study’s instigator, the recording od daily activity levels and snack intake by text message, along with the added motivational text message response, may have contributed to kids in the text message group losing the most weight.

The results should be taken with a pinch of salt – although not too much, obviously – because the study unfortunately didn’t find that the simple act of sending a text message will help you shed that spare tyre. Although it might keep your fingers in shape.

The study concluded that text messaging “may be a useful tool for self-monitoring of healthy behaviours in children”.

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