You've Got (Healthy) Mail

Weekly e-reminders helped workers lose weight

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THURSDAY, June 30, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- E-mail may be an effective weapon in the war against unhealthy weight gain: A new study finds that people who receive regular e-mails promoting a healthy lifestyle eat healthier and get more exercise.

The 12-week Canadian study of nearly 2,600 workers found that those who received weekly health promotion e-mails in their inbox increased their amount of physical activity and were more willing to make changes in their eating habits than those who didn't receive these messages.

The people in the e-mail group also showed a slight reduction in body mass index (BMI), while the group who didn't receive the e-mails showed a slight increase in BMI over the 12-week study period.

"E-mail deliveries of health promotion messages can have small yet beneficial effects on health behaviors over a short time frame," the University of Alberta researchers conclude.

This use of e-mails to promote a healthy lifestyle is practical, cost-effective, unobtrusive and a promising new method for using the workplace to encourage good nutrition and exercise, the authors said.

Writing in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, the researchers add that more frequent use of visually pleasing e-mails might be even more effective than the plain text message e-mails used in the study.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about healthy living.

SOURCE: American Journal of Health Promotion, news release, June 22, 2005

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