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Transl Behav Med. 2019 May 16;9(3):448-450. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz065.

Chatbots as extenders of pediatric obesity intervention: an invited commentary on "Feasibility of Pediatric Obesity & Pre-Diabetes Treatment Support through Tess, the AI Behavioral Coaching Chatbot".

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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.


Despite our best efforts, pediatric obesity remains an important public health issue. Although many different approaches to address this condition have been utilized, few have achieved long-term success. Technology is increasingly being explored as a convenient and accessible method for delivering behavioral interventions. Stephens and colleagues report the feasibility of using a behavioral coaching social chatbot, Tess, to extend a multicomponent pediatric obesity intervention for adolescents. We examine the pros and cons of this approach. Although social chatbots offer an interesting and novel method for promoting round-the-clock support, important issues and decisions must be carefully considered during the design phase to help ensure a safe environment for a vulnerable population.


Artificial intelligence; behavior change; chatbots; child obesity


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