Open Access Research article

Feasibility, acceptability and potential effectiveness of a mobile health (mHealth) weight management programme for New Zealand adults

Cliona Ni Mhurchu1*, Robyn Whittaker1, Hayden McRobbie2, Kylie Ball3, David Crawford3, Jo Michie1, Yannan Jiang1, Ralph Maddison1, Wilma Waterlander1 and Katie Myers2

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Health Innovation, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom

3 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Obesity 2014, 1:10  doi:10.1186/2052-9538-1-10

Published: 27 July 2014



Mobile health (mHealth) behaviour change programmes use mobile phones and the internet to deliver health information and behaviour change support to participants. Such programmes offer a potentially cost-effective way to reach many individuals who do not currently access weight loss services. We developed a mHealth weight management programme using proven face-to-face behaviour change techniques and incorporating target population input. Our aim was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and potential effectiveness of this programme for ethnically diverse adults with a view to informing a larger trial.


Fifty three adults who had a BMI of ≥25 kg/m2 and wanted to lose weight (81% female, mean age 42 years, mean BMI 35.7 kg/m2, 26% Maori, 34% Pacific) received the eight-week mHealth weight loss programme. Anthropometric measures were taken at two face-to-face assessments at baseline and 12-weeks (i.e. four weeks after cessation of intervention).

Twelve-week follow-up measurements were available for 36/53 participants (68%). Non-completers were younger and more likely to be male and of Pacific ethnicity. Thirty five participants (66%) reported reading ‘all or most’ text messages sent and 96% responded to at least one text data collection question over the eight-week active intervention period. Eighty one per cent of participants logged in to the study website at least once during the eight-week study period. In the intention-to-treat analysis, mean weight change was -1.0 kg (SD 3.1) at 12 weeks (p = 0.024) and change in BMI was -0.34 kg/m2 (SD 1.1) (p = 0.026). In the completers only analysis (n = 36), mean weight change was -1.4 kg (SD 3.6) (p = 0.023) and change in BMI was -0.50 kg/m2 (SD 1.3) (p = 0.025).


A mHealth weight management programme is feasible to deliver to an ethnically diverse population. Changes in body weight and BMI at 12 weeks indicate that the programme could be effective in supporting people with weight loss. However, the high dropout rate indicates a need for further improvements to the programme.

Trial registration


Obesity; Text message; mHealth