Diabetes Risk Can Be Lowered with Online Diet and Lifestyle Program

Diabetes Risk Can Be Lowered with Online Diet and Lifestyle Program

A study recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) revealed that a new online program called Alive-PD (“prevent diabetes”) from Turnaround Health can successfully lower blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1C (measure of the average glucose over a period of time) in patients with prediabetes. The study is entitled “Diabetes Prevention and Weight Loss with a Fully Automated Behavioral Intervention by Email, Web, and Mobile Phone: A Randomized Controlled Trial Among Persons with Prediabetes.

In the randomized controlled clinical trial study (NCT01479062), researchers evaluated the effectiveness of Alive-PD, a fully automated algorithm-driven behavioral intervention for diabetes prevention focused on the improvement of eating habits, physical activity, sleep, stress, and weight loss. It is a virtual program delivered online and via email, supplemented with automated interactive phone calls and a supportive smartphone application. Alive-PD offers a one-year program with health information, and tools for tracking, coaching, and support.

In total, 339 pre-diabetic individuals (mean age of 55 years) participated in the study; 163 were randomly assigned to the Alive-PD intervention group, while the other 176 took part in the control group assigned to a six-month wait-list usual-care.

“We recruited 339 participants who had pre-diabetes, a condition in which their blood glucose is elevated but not yet high enough to be diabetes,” explained Kristen Azar RN MSN/MPH, a nurse researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and co-investigator on the study, in a news release. “We measured their blood and body measurements every three months.”

Researchers found that participants in the Alive-PD group achieved significantly greater reductions in fasting glucose, HbA1c, body weight, body mass index (BMI),waist circumference, and triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol ratio (TG/HDL) in comparison to the control group. At six months, the diabetes risk in the Alive-PD group was reduced more significantly than in the control group. Researchers reported a good participation and retention in the program.

“Some of the changes were really impressive,” said Scientific Director of Turnaround Health, Dr. Gladys Block. “The Alive-PD group reduced their fasting glucose by over 7 mg/dL, compared with about 2 mg/dL in the control group (…) The interesting thing is that these changes didn’t involve dieting or calorie-counting. It was all about starting where you are now, and making gradual changes.”

It is estimated that one-third of the adults in the United States, around 86 million individuals, have pre-diabetes, while two-thirds are overweight or obese and at risk for diabetes.

“We have to reach the 86 million American adults who have pre-diabetes,” said the CEO of Turnaround Health, Torin Block. “Because our program is fully automated, requiring no personal coaching, it can reach large numbers of at-risk individuals affordably. And, as this study showed, it can reach them effectively, helping people turn their health around and prevent diabetes.”

For more information on the Turnaround Health online program, you can watch a video here of the project’s lead researcher, Dr. Block, speaking about it at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting.

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