Can wearables lead to greater physical activity and weight loss among participants in diabetes prevention programmes?

Diabetes is the fastest growing, and potentially most devastating, health crisis of our time. In the UK, there are 3.8 million people living with diabetes and 90% of those have Type 2. In fact, most new cases of diabetes are Type 2, and it is these cases that diabetes prevention programmes are really focussed on. 

It’s a similar story across the ocean: more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, at an annual cost of $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity1. And more than 84 million adult Americans have elevated blood glucose levels that put them at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes mellitus2. Plus, among adults with pre- diabetes, 29% may progress to Type 2 diabetes within three years3

Fitbit Health Solutions develops health and wellness solutions designed to help increase engagement, improve health outcomes, and drive a positive return for employers, health plans and health systems. Bringing their expertise for driving behavioural change, Fitbit Health Solutions partnered with Solera Health in January 2017 to see how they could work together to help prevent diabetes.

Based in the US, Solera Health is an integrated benefit network that helps deliver the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) – an intensive lifestyle intervention developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It runs for one year and is split into an intensive core programme during the first six months, in which at least 16 classes are offered, and a maintenance phase for the last six months, where a session is offered at least once a month4. The goal of the programme is for participants to lose 5% body mass through a combination of physical activity, diet and other lifestyle changes. 

During the partnership, Solera began offering free Fitbit devices to some of their participants. They hoped the introduction of a Fitbit would: encourage more people to stay engaged in the DPP programme, increase rates of physical activity, and help more people reach their 5% weight loss goal. 

Participants were given the option of completing the programme online or in person – either physically visiting classes and coming in to be weighed, or staying at home and doing the programme remotely. Both groups were eligible for the free Fitbit if they had participated in at least two weekly sessions in weeks 1-4, and intended to carry on with a similar level of engagement. 

During the years programme, Solera tracked the progress of those with a Fitbit compared with those without one. Weight loss and weekly activity levels were recorded for both groups at weeks 9, 16, 26 and 52, to align with the intensive phase and maintenance phase with telling differences. Additionally, they monitored the number of participants who achieved the ultimate programme goal of 5% weight loss by week 52. 

These exciting results will be shared by Aideen O’Colmain, Director Business Development EMEA at Fitbit Health Solutions and Geoff Hyatt, Managing Director Europe at Solera Health at HETT at 11.15 - 11.35am on Tuesday 1st October. Find out more at diabetes/ 


  1. Yang, W. et al. Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2017. Diabetes Care 41, 917–928 (2018). 2. Statistics About Diabetes: American Diabetes Association®. Available at: diabetes-basics/statistics/. (Accessed: 24th February 2019)
    3. Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, for the D. P. P. R. Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin. N. Engl. J. Med. 346, 393–403 (2002). 4. Jain, M. et al. Lifetime Prevalence and Prognosis of Prediabetes Without Progression to Diabetes. Diabetes Care 41, e117–e118 (2018). 5. American Diabetes Association. Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2017. Diabetes Care 41, 917–928 (2018). 

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program Standards and Operating Procedures. (2018). 


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