Background: In Los Angeles County 92% of postpartum women use mobile technology and 46% of postpartum women are overweight or obese with a disproportionately higher number of Hispanic and African American women affected. Maternal overweight and obesity are linked to poor birth outcomes and lower breastfeeding rates. Being overweight or obese before pregnancy increases the likelihood of retaining at least 11 pounds postpartum. Limited information is available about the use of mobile technology for postpartum weight management.
Program background: Choose Health LA Moms (LA Moms) is part of a multi-pronged initiative to reduce early childhood obesity in Los Angeles County. LA Moms focuses on breastfeeding, walking, and water to assist women in getting to a healthy weight to improve their and their children’s health outcomes. An assessment of the social determinants of health at the initiation of the program identifies potential issues that may preclude them from thinking about weight loss. As the first teachers in a child’s life, LA Moms encourages moms to adopt healthy behaviors to serve as models for her children. LA Moms provides education, resources, and support to women in Los Angeles County via the internet, text messages, and social media for weight management immediately postpartum.
Evaluation Methods and Results: In order to assess the feasibility of delivering a postpartum weight management intervention via the internet, text messages, and social media, a 19-question self-administered questionnaire was administered to pregnant and previously pregnant women. 193 respondents were recruited from a variety of socioeconomic and professional settings. The questionnaire was used to collect information on demographics, smart phone use, ability to receive text messages, and frequency of access to the internet. Results: A descriptive analysis was performed of 193 respondents: 40% were African American (75/186), 55% were Hispanic/Latino (102/186), 7% were White (12/186), and 5% were Asian (10/186). 27% had three or more years of college, while 73% had less education than that. Ninety-five percent (174/193) of respondents have smart phones: 67% (117/174) have an Android and 36% (57/174) have an iPhone. 83% of respondents (126/151) have unlimited text messaging plans. 91% (143/158) of respondents can access the internet daily. 24% of respondents were overweight and 50% were obese.
Conclusions: These results indicate that mothers in the target population for the LA Moms program have regular access to the internet, use smart phones, and a large majority can send and receive unlimited text messages. This access spans education levels. Postpartum women are already using mobile technology. Delivering a postpartum obesity reduction program via mobile technology will leverage the communication platforms they are already using.
Implications for research and/or practice: Public health outreach would do well by utilizing communication styles already used by their target population, such as mobile technology, to promote their message. Mobile technology can be leveraged for health education and public health initiatives.