A new Finnish StopDia study has found that group lifestyle guidance and an application that supports the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits helped participants to reduce their waist circumference and improve their dietary habits, thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to the CDC, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, of whom 90% to 95% have type 2 diabetes. Symptoms often develop over several years and many patients can go for an extended period without noticing symptoms.
The BitHabit application, used to automate new habit adoption and generate sustainable behavioral changes, was shown to lead participants to make healthy choices that suited their lifestyle. According to the study authors, the application was used more actively by older participants.
“In other words, it is worthwhile to offer digital alternatives to people in an unprejudiced manner, regardless of their age,” Marja Harjumaa, senior scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, who is involved in the development of the application, said in a press release by the National Institute for Health and Welfare.
The study also showed that the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC), the most widely used risk score for type 2 diabetes in the world, was more effective in identifying patients at risk without the use of laboratory testing, according to the press release.
More than half of the StopDia participants with an elevated FINDRISC score in the digital screening had a glucose metabolism disorder. Additionally, 5% were diagnosed with previously undetected diabetes. The study also revealed that healthcare reaches only a small proportion of patients who would benefit from preventative activities.
The study reached participants through a variety of avenues, including editorial content in newspapers, journalistic articles with personal interviews, and social media. The information disseminated in workplaces mainly reached women. Male participants indicated that they were more likely to be recommended to the treatment by female family members.
"Men traditionally are less interested to take part in health promotion campaigns and studies. Their participation was most effectively promoted by a word from a friend or a relative. Many men pointed out that 'the wife urged me to come'," said Jaana Lindström, research manager and developer of the FINDRISC test.
The study’s preliminary results revealed that participants consumed vegetables, fruit and nuts during working hours at a greater rate at the end of the study compared with the beginning of the study, whereas there was no difference in savory and sweet foods. Participants were also more likely to have regulatory break exercise, such as stretching, by the end of the study.