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Motivational text messaging can help tackle type 2 diabetes

People at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes may benefit from text messages that encourage healthy lifestyle changes, according to a new study published online in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
The study was carried out by researchers from Imperial College London and the India Diabetes Research Foundation to determine the effectiveness of text messages in prevention of type 2 diabetes by lifestyle modification.
A total of 537 men between the ages of 35 and 55 in southeast India took part in the research, all of whom had impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that is usually a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Half of the participants received frequent text messages containing information about the benefits of eating healthily and physical activity, and reminding them of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, while the other half (control group) received standard care from their doctor.
Both groups were followed for an average of 20 months. During the time, just under one in five (18%) of people in the SMS intervention group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, compared with 27% of those in the control group.
“We’ve known for years that you can prevent type 2 diabetes by modifying your lifestyle, but the problem is how to support people to do that,” commented study leader Professor Desmond Johnsto, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London.
“Frequent personal contact with a doctor is effective, but it’s very costly to provide. We’ve shown that you can achieve similar results using mobile phone messaging, which is a very low-cost solution.
“We plan to carry out more studies in other populations but there’s no reason why this strategy shouldn’t work anywhere else in the world.”
The study, which appears online in the medical journal ‘The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology’, is thought to be the first in any country to show the benefits of a messaging service as a way to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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