The NHS has announced a trial of digital technology as part of efforts to tackle obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
More than 5,000 patients will test out a range of apps, gadgets, wristbands and other digital products to help track their activity, sleep and eating habits.
The initiative — involving NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, as well as leading companies from the tech sector — is part of Healthier You: The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which was officially launched in 2016 to support people who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Those referred on to the face-to-face programme get tailored, personalised help, including education on lifestyle choices, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating, and bespoke physical activity programmes, which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
This new pilot offers similar support, assistance and guidance but through the use of the digital interventions such as:
– Wearable technologies that monitor levels of exercise;
– Apps which allow users to access health coaches;
– Online peer support groups; and
– The ability to set and monitor goals electronically.
According to the NHS, this online method of recording activity and monitoring progress has the potential to have the same impact as face-to-face interventions — helping bring down high blood sugar levels and in turn prevent or delay onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “So much else in our lives is now about online social connection and support, and that now needs to be true too for the modern NHS. This new programme is the latest example of how the NHS is now getting practical and getting serious about new ways of supporting people stay healthy.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, added: “This breaks new ground to help those at risk of Type 2 diabetes quite literally take their health into their own hands. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a logical next step in diabetes prevention.”