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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 658149, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/658149
Research Article

Adapting a Database of Text Messages to a Mobile-Based Weight Loss Program: The Case of the Middle East

Information Systems Program, Carnegie Mellon University, Doha, Qatar

Received 5 June 2013; Revised 7 November 2013; Accepted 18 November 2013; Published 6 January 2014

Academic Editor: Miriam Vollenbroek-Hutten

Copyright © 2014 Selma Limam Mansar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic. Qatar, a rapidly developing country in the Middle East, has seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of obesity. The increase can be attributed to several reasons, including sedentary lifestyles imposed by a harsh climate and the introduction of Western fast food. Mobile technologies have been used and studied as a technology to support individuals’ weight loss. The authors have developed a mobile application that implements three strategies drawn from proven theories of behavioral change. The application is localized to the cultural context of its proposed users. The objective of this paper is to present a method through which we adapted the messaging content of a weight loss application to the context of its users while retaining an effective degree of automation. The adaptation addressed body image, eating and physical exercise habits, and regional/cultural needs. The paper discusses how surveying potential users can be used to build a profile of a target population, find common patterns, and then develop a database of text messages. The text messages are automated and sent to the users at specific times of day, as suggested by the survey results.