A mHealth randomized controlled trial to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake in preschool-aged children

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Sugar-sweetened beverages and maternal weight are strong drivers of child obesity, but few studies have targeted these risk factors as an obesity prevention strategy in children.


The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of a smartphone-delivered intervention to reduce parent-provided sugar-sweetened beverage and juice (SSB/juice) consumption among children ages 3–5 and maternal weight.


Mothers with overweight or obesity, who had a child ages 3–5 that consumed at least 12 fl. oz./day of SSB/juice (N = 51 dyads) were randomized to the Smart Moms group that received one group session, lessons on a mobile website, and text messages, or to a waitlist control group. Mothers self-monitored their children's beverages in addition to their own beverages, high-calorie foods, and weight. Assessments at baseline, 3, and 6 months included dietary recalls to measure SSB/juice intake and objectively measured maternal weight.


Using linear mixed models controlling for baseline values, child age and race, there was a greater reduction in child SSB/juice in Smart Moms compared with control at 6 months (−9.7 oz./day vs. 1.7 oz./day, p < .01). Mothers in Smart Moms lost 2.4 kg at 6 months compared with a 0.9-kg gain in the control group (p < .01).


An intervention delivered using mHealth technologies can target mothers to change child dietary behaviours and improve maternal weight, which suggests a novel approach to family-based obesity prevention.

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