There’s an App for That! The Scoop on Diabetes Self-Management Apps

Diabetes

 

By: Annabelle Shaffer, BS, Master’s candidate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

 

Basics of Type 1 and 2 Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1type 2, and gestational.1 Today, we’ll focus on type 1 (T1D) and 2 (T2D) diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when we have excessive blood sugar (glucose). Under normal conditions, our pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts to take glucose from our blood to our cells, where it can be used for energy.

In T1D, the pancreas does not produce insulin.2 As a result, the patient’s blood sugar remains high, and they must take insulin to survive. T1D is an autoimmune disease and cannot be prevented.2 In T2D, the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or the body is inefficient in using the insulin.3 T2D often occurs later in life but can be prevented through positive lifestyle changes, such as physical activity, weight management, and healthy eating.

T1D and T2D are both treated through medication and diet, but there is not a real cure. It is recommended that patients with diabetes frequently monitor their blood glucose, through continuous glucose monitors or glucometers, and choose their foods and insulin dosages accordingly.

State of Type 2 Diabetes in the United States

T2D currently affects 30.3 million people in the US (9.4%), and approximately 5000 US children are diagnosed annually.4 Unfortunately, the prevalence is expected to increase in the future. While no cure exists, the healthcare system can better manage T2D.5 There are fewer T2D-related deaths, and T2D patients are living longer, despite the presence of serious comorbidities.5 

Self-Management Apps

Mobile applications are a growing method for managing chronic diseases, such as T2D. There are several applications available to assist patients in managing their diabetes:

  • Glucose Buddy: Allows for self-monitoring of food and carbohydrate intake, Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and medication tracking.
  • MySugr: MySugr has similar self-monitoring features as Glucose Buddy. Also, it can generate health reports for the patient’s provider and estimate HbA1c. With the paid version, counseling from a Certified Diabetes Educator is available.
  • One Drop: Along with self-monitoring, One Drop is unique in that it can sync with One Drop glucometers and collect blood sugar readings.

Applications, such as Glucose Buddy, can empower patients to manage their diabetes and increase adherence to their treatment plans. However, current research is inconclusive on the HbA1c lowering impact of these applications. The reported reductions range from 0.15-1.9%, where 0.5% reduction is significant.6 Applications leading to significant reductions utilized personalized feedback from primary care physicians or dietitians.6 At this time, more research and further optimization of applications are needed before they can be a reliable method of HbA1c reduction.

To learn more about continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and current monitoring devices please tune into our recorded webinar EMPOWERING DIABETES SELF-MANAGEMENT: UTILIZING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY IN PERSONAL BLOOD GLUCOSE MONITORING at https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/event/34462/.  Dietitians can earn 1.0 CPEU for up to 1-year post-webinar.

 

References

  1. What is Diabetes? | NIDDK. (2019). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes 
  2. Type 1 Diabetes | Basics | Diabetes | CDC. (2019). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type1.html
  3. Type 2 Diabetes | Basics | Diabetes | CDC. (2019). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html
  4. Diabetes Infographics | Social Media | Press & Social Media| Diabetes | CDC. (2019). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/socialMedia/infographics.html
  5. Rowley, W. R., Bezold, C., Arikan, Y., Byrne, E., & Krohe, S. (2017). Diabetes 2030: Insights from Yesterday, Today, and Future Trends. Population health management20(1), 6–12. doi:10.1089/pop.2015.0181 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278808/
  6. Fu, H., McMahon, S., Gross, C., Adam, T., & Wyman, J. (2017). Usability and clinical efficacy of diabetes mobile applications for adults with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review. Diabetes Research And Clinical Practice131, 70-81. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2017.06.016 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168822717300323?via%3Dihub

 

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