When confronted with global scale health threats, detection and prevention take more than just a village. Obesity and Type II diabetes both qualify as present day, large scale threats in most areas of the world. While scientists and researchers focus on causes and cures in laboratories, community action based on current certain knowledge has a chance of slowing the disease’s development. Unlike Type I diabetes, Type II (TIID)is preventable and individuals can take specific steps to reduce their chances. A national group in the U.K. developed a community outreach diabetes prevention program using wearables and other digital components.
The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) has two functions: identifying high risk individuals and referring them to a behavior change program. According to the National Health Service, if current trends persist, one in ten people in England will develop TIID by 2034. Today there are five million English people at high risk of developing Type II diabetes. That group is in line to join the 3.4 million people in the country who already have the disease, with 200,000 new diagnoses each year. The current U.K. annual early death rate related to diabetes is approximately 22,000. The current annual financial cost of the disease is 8.8 billion English pounds: about $11.8 billion.
The NHS DPP content doesn’t involve rocket science. The program supports people to maintain healthy weight and be more active. In addition to face to face personalized advice on eating and physical activity, the NHS DPP uses digital interventions to support the participants. The tech aids in the program include wearables that monitor exercise, apps to access health coaches, online peer support groups, and the ability to set and monitor goals electronically. The NHS pilot program will include up to 5,000 people, five providers, and eight geographic areas in England. The digital intervention program will run for 12 months with the aim of assessing its effectiveness in supporting behavior change in people at high risk of Type II diabetes.