The Baby Bites Texting Project: Developing a Pilot Program to Combat Pediatric Obesity




Habiba, Nusrath
Gautam, Rupali
Davis, Kathleen
Warren, Cynthia
Massey-Stokes, Marilyn


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Purpose: Pediatric obesity poses an increased risk of hyperlipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, and fatty liver disease. Parental obesity, birth weight, early cessation of breastfeeding, and early introduction of solids are variables related to early rapid weight gain and obesity. Past studies have little consistency regarding the best method to prevent early obesity. We are piloting a theory-grounded text messaging program to reduce the risk of early pediatric obesity by encouraging recommended breastfeeding practices and appropriate introduction of first foods. Methods: Themes and surveys from a focus group were used to create gain- and loss-framed text messages targeting constructs of the Health Belief Model. Forty parent-infant pairs were randomized into two groups. The control group received messages about health and safety, and the intervention group received messages about feeding. Ages, heights, weights, 24-hour recalls, and surveys regarding feeding behaviors were collected over the course of one year. Results: While not significant, preliminary results revealed that more mothers of babies in the intervention group continued breastfeeding at the two- and six- month marks than mothers of babies in the control group. Over the remaining several months of the study, we predict that this trend will continue and that babies in the intervention group will have higher rates of normal weight-for-length z scores when compared to the control group. Conclusion: While this study is ongoing, it is imperative to finding a lower cost, lower effort method that is theoretically-based to combat the rising rates of pediatric obesity.