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Thousands at risk of type 2 diabetes to be offered wearable tech

Haroon Siddique, The Guardian

Published: 11 August 2019

Thousands of people in England at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes will receive wearable tech to help monitor their exercise level, the NHS has said. Up to 8,000 people could benefit from the digital scheme designed to combat the disease, which has been spreading rapidly on the back of the obesity epidemic.

A person is looking at the smartwatch

They will also have access to apps which allow users to access health coaches and educational content; online peer support groups; and the ability to set and monitor goals electronically.

Dr Jenifer Smith, the diabetes prevention programme director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”

Fitness trackers are big business in the UK although their effectiveness has been called into question.

Pilot schemes found that offering access to online advice significantly boosted the numbers taking up the flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP), a partnership between NHS England (NHSE), which funds it, PHE and Diabetes UK.

Almost seven in 10 people (68%) referred to digital schemes took part, compared with around half of those offered face-to-face support. The difference was particularly striking among younger people.

After the success of the pilot, the scheme will be expanded this month with the first to benefit being those who cannot make face-to-face support sessions, NHSE said.

Almost 4 million people in England have type 2 diabetes. One in six hospital beds in England are occupied by someone with the disease, which leads to more than 9,000 amputations each year and costs the NHS more than £6bn each year.

The DPP is part of the NHS long term plan, of which prevention is a key plank of its attempt to reduce pressure on scarce resources.

People who have completed the programme have lost an average of seven and a half pounds.

Nikki Joule, the policy manager at Diabetes UK, said the digital programme should be rolled out more widely. “This could be vital in reaching more of the millions of people at risk of type 2 diabetes, and in helping to reduce the increasing prevalence of the condition,” she said.

This article was written by Haroon Siddique from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Minor grammatical and translational editorial changes may have been made to this article by MSD, which has no impact on the content of the article. This is to ensure all articles remain as relevant as possible to UK healthcare professionals.

GB-NON-01412 | Date of Preparation: August 2019

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