Communicating their way: obesity message delivered to teens via web

An Australian research organisation is tapping into mobile and internet technology, in an attempt to reach teenagers with the anti-obesity message.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRA) is in the process of recruiting participants from across Melbourne.

The participants, aged between 12 and 17, will have their height, weight, blood pressure and waist circumference measured when they sign up, with follow-ups at three, six and 12 months.

They will undertake 12 one-hour online sessions which will include motivational messages, information on healthy lifestyles.

The teens will also have access to a confidential chat room where they log their food diary and levels of activity.

Parents will receive regular newsletters on how to support their teenager through the process.
The program will use the controversial traffic light labelling system, which was welcomed by some health groups, slammed by others, and eventually decided against by the government in favour of another mandatory front-of-pack notional labelling, which will be rolled out within a year.

The MCRI’s Associate Professor, Joanne Williams believes the use of the traffic light system will be effective for the teenagers.
“We try to get them to increase their serves of green foods and decrease their intake of red foods,” she said.

“The programs will teach them ways to manage nutrition, exercise, weight and to improve body image.”

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