Diabetes: The Social Disease That Won’t be Helped by Social Media

If diabetes is a social disease then surely the cure can be a social one too? But not really, because Web and phone based contacts, relating to diabetes life management had a very little effect on haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). And neither did the hi-tech interventions really influence, in any significant way the multiple facets of diabetes management. Traditional treatment continues to be the best way forward for diabetes sufferers.

This is the dismaying conclusion of a new Meta study. This conclusion comes out of an overview of 16 other studies in this area. Contacting diabetes sufferers via the Internet and their cell phones had very little impact the patient’s weight, emotional state, health arena quality of life, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels. The study was conducted by a team at the University College London, and colleagues.


Diabetes and Social Media?

There was however, one minor improvement for patients who worked with technological interventions. There was a slight, but important improvement in HbA1c when compared with traditional care methods. This efficacious effect was most notable among diabetes patients who took to cell phone interventions.

The researchers warned that the lasting impact, if any, of electronic communications are probably limited a great deal more follow-up research is needed to fully understand whatever longer term effects and behavior changes can be attributed  to Internet/patient regulation of diabetes.

The report concludes that:

 “Structured patient education programs reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications fourfold. Internet-based self-management programs have been shown to be effective for a number of long-term conditions,” but that prior research has not established the efficacy — or cost-effectiveness — of such programs for diabetes patients.

More than 8% of Americans have diabetes of one form or another. This means 25.8 million people. It is changes in the fundamental life behaviors of modern day Americans that has led to this dramatic rise in the number of sufferers. It is largely type 2 diabetes that accounts for the epidemic. There are also the linked conditions, so called ‘diabesity’ and ‘metabolic syndrome. It may be a modern disease, but the cure, based on the evidence so far, it isn’t to be found in information technology.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is triggered by three things; 1) behavior factors such as a ‘couch potato’ lifestyle and lack of exercise. 2) Sugar and fat rich diets and 3) Genetic predisposition, particularly among certain ethnic groups. Diabetes was recorded as the primary cause on over 71,000 death certificates in 2007. It was recorded as a contributory factor in more than 160,000 deaths. This data implicates diabetes in almost a quarter of a million deaths. Health complications flowing from diabetes can be a number of serious if not fatal complications such as, heart disease and stroke, hypertension, loss of sight, kidney malfunction, neuropathy and even loss of limb.

The report’s authors conclude that, “Existing interventions do not show adequate evidence as ways of improving other biological outcomes or any cognitive, behavioral, or emotional outcomes.”

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

3 thoughts on “Diabetes: The Social Disease That Won’t be Helped by Social Media

  • May 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Poor diet and “couch potato” lifestyle will cause any kind of health problems including diabetes. Due to social media obsession these days people stopped walking, exercising, eating healthy – everyone is just glued to their cell phones and computers which creates sedentary lifestyle thus affects our health.

  • May 20, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Diabetes, A Social Disease? Give me a break. You make Diabetes sound like an STD. How absurd!

    • May 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

      The only socialization I think is – between fatty,greasy food & the mouth,while laying on the couch sleeping or watching TV


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