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How mobile apps help manage disease and track fitness

Mohan Lal Verma’s son Amit gifted him a smartphone on his 50th birthday. Not because an ageing Verma is a technology geek, but to enable him to manage multiple diseases he is suffering from i.e. diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Verma now finds it very easy to monitor his glucose levels, track his dieting patterns and connect to his doctors with scores of mobile health apps available.

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Mohan Lal Verma’s son Amit gifted him a smartphone on his 50th birthday. Not because an ageing Verma is a technology geek, but to enable him to manage multiple diseases he is suffering from i.e. diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Verma now finds it very easy to monitor his glucose levels, track his dieting patterns and connect to his doctors with scores of mobile health apps available.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Amit is also fitness freak who keeps tab on his fitness through these apps. Diabetes, one of the most common lifestyle disease, can be managed by using such health apps, web portals, blogs, online diabetes educations platforms. A study published in Lancet, done on 537 Indian men showed simple text messages about lifestyle management prevents almost 40 per cent new cases of diabetes. About 95 per cent of the study subjects reported they liked these text messages.

Mobile apps have different features such as blood sugar tracking, healthy eating, pill reminders to improve compliance, and track physical activity.

Most of the apps available provide facility to log the blood glucose according to the meal timings so the patients do not have to write it down separately. Many glucometers can be directly linked to the smartphones or computers to download the data. Some of the apps project these data in form of graphs. They even give the trend of the blood glucose,” said Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis C-DOC.

Many apps like ‘iBGstar’,  ‘GoMeal’, ‘Diabetes Net Diary’, and ‘Glooko’ have a provision to set reminders so that the patient does not forget to check his blood sugars.

Weight loss is yet another challenge for most of the people nowadays, young and old alike. Most of the obese people do not visit a nutritionist at all. Apps which can give database of various food products with calorie and macronutrient information at their fingertips will keep them motivated and empower them to manage weight.

“Users of many apps can search the database by scanning barcodes and set a calorie and weight goal for them. These apps encourage the users to log their food daily and give predicted weight loss and appreciate the effort with encouraging messages. Few of these apps are like ‘MyFitnessPal’, ‘Calorie Counter’, ‘Carb Counting with Lenny’,” said Dr Amerta Ghosh from Fortis Hospital.

Doctors say that for tracking one’s physical activity and its intensity, time and knowledge about calorie expenditure is important for overall fitness. “Exercise goals like ‘steps per day’, and ‘fitness goal’ give a weight loss curve or projected weight loss which can be motivating. Low step count reminders encourage the user to complete the set goals,” said Dr Ghosh.

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