Background: There is a need for workplace programs promoting healthy eating and activity that reach low-wage employees and are scalable beyond the study site. Interventions designed with dissemination in mind aim to utilize minimal resources and to fit within existing systems. Technology-based interventions have the potential to promote healthy behaviors and to be sustainable as well as scalable. We developed an interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), to be delivered by SMS text messaging, and therefore accessible to a broad population. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate participant engagement with, and acceptability of, this iOTA to promote healthy eating and activity behaviors among low-wage workers with obesity. Methods: Twenty participants (self-reporting body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) of a single workgroup employed by a university medical practice billing office had access to the full intervention and study measures and provided feedback on the experience. Height and weight were measured by trained research staff at baseline. Each participant was offered a quarterly session with a health coach. Measured weight and a self-administered survey, including dietary and activity behaviors, were also collected at baseline, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Participant engagement was assessed through responsiveness to iOTA SMS text messages throughout the 24-month pilot. A survey measure was used to assess satisfaction with iOTA at 3 months. Due to the small sample size and pilot nature of the current study, we conducted descriptive analyses. Engagement, weight change, and duration remaining in coaching are presented individually for each study participant. Results: The pilot was originally intended to last 3 months, but nearly all participants requested to continue; we thus continued for 24 months. Most (14/20) participants remained in coaching for 24 months. At the 3-month follow-up, eight (47%) of the remaining 17 participants had lost weight; by 24 months, five (36%) of the remaining 14 participants had lost weight (one had bariatric surgery). Participants reported very high satisfaction. Conclusions: This pilot provides important preliminary results on acceptability and participant engagement with iOTA, which has significant potential for dissemination and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 28 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Pilot test of an interactive obesity treatment approach among employed adults in a university medical billing office'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this