Mobile support for diabetes program leads to 'transformative' weight loss

A mobile platform supporting the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) is a viable and valuable strategy in helping patients lose weight and slowing the onset of disease.

A pilot study reveals the program, when presented through a smartphone platform, showed high patient engagement and “transformative weight loss” compared to traditional NDPP approaches.

“[A] novel mobile NDPP intervention has the potential for scalability, and can address the major barriers facing the widespread translation of the NDPP into the community setting, such as a high fixed overhead, fixed locations, and lower levels of engagement and weight loss,” according to the authors of the study, published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

Diabetes management and treatment is one of the top focal points for mHealth developers because of the large patient population and steady consumer adoption of mobile devices. In June, the American Diabetes Association and IBM announced they are partnering on personalized mHealth app that gets smarter over time and works with Watson Care Manager. The two are also developing a diabetes-focused app development challenge for tools that tap the association’s deep data and IBM Watson’s cognitive insights.

The NDPP pilot involved 43 overweight and obese adults diagnosed with prediabetes. During the 24-week program participants tracked meals, weight loss and self-monitored health status. A coach interacted with participants daily via an app and group messaging and monitored progress through a dashboard. Of those completing the program, there was a 5 percent body weight loss and 84 percent completed nine or more of the lesson activity in the program.

Researchers said it is the first full mobile translation of the NDPP.

“Mobile health implementation of NDPP appears to be comparable to current community-based programmes and more flexible than web-based implementations,” according to the study, which also noted “findings support the effectiveness of a uniquely mobile intervention, producing weight loss comparable to studies with high engagement with potential for scalable population health management.”