We all know we should eat more vegetables and fruits and less fat. We’re also aware that more exercise and less time in front of a television would also benefit our health. Public health experts often wring their hands in despair when it comes to changing these behaviors, but a new study shows that it is possible for people to make changes. In fact, the individuals in the Chicago-based study made more than one healthy lifestyle change during the three-week study. The participants were issued a personal digital assistant to record diet and exercise activity throughout the day, and coaches communicated with them by phone or email based on the data they uploaded. There was a reward: those who met the behavioral goals earned $175 at the close of the study.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of this research is not that intensive coaching can help people change, but that the volunteers maintained many of their new healthier behaviors, at least in part, for the five months following the study. Another encouraging note: people who cut their screen time also reduced their saturated fat intake without a specific focus on fat. The researchers conclude that mobile technologies may offer a powerful way to support healthy behavior change and improve public health.
[Archives of Internal Medicine, May 28,2012]