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Happy and Healthy 2017

As we move on to 2017, we wish you all a year filled with peace, joy, and success. I extend our gratitude to our mentors and advisors for standing by us and having faith in us that we are moving in the right direction. 

The year 2016 was a pivotal time for HabitNu. The company we were, versus the company we have become, shows us that our mission remains intact and impactful. After several reiterations and piloting, we developed a robust diabetes prevention program aligned with the national diabetes prevention program by the Centers for Disease Control. While our passion for helping 150 million people with diabetes and pre-diabetes in India is still alive, we decided to focus locally because the city of Chicago doesn’t have an active national diabetes prevention program!

In March 2016, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services took a strong step towards prevention by announcing that the national diabetes prevention program will be eligible for reimbursement starting in 2018. As you all know, 2017 is a year of uncertainty, but one fact remains the same. Diabetes and its co-morbid conditions are not going away. One out of ten adults in the US has Type 2 diabetes, and one of three has pre-diabetes. Among adults under the age of 75 diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations. If current trends continue, as many as one in three adults in America could have diabetes by the year 2050. 

HabitNu diabetes prevention program was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control in September 2016. We thank the 800+ people who tested the HabitNu program at different stages of development. Our CTO Gregg Cooke and our technical team worked very hard to build a stable and robust platform that can be used for managing not only diabetes but also other chronic conditions.

With great pride, we launched the first active community diabetes prevention program in Chicago this year (dppchicago.com). I thank our partners, the American Diabetes Association and the Advocate Heart Institute for joining us in this effort. Thank you Humana for providing the generous produce bags every month. Currently, we are expanding the Chicago diabetes prevention initiative in various institutions in Chicago and across the country. 

Our commitment to preventing diabetes continues to be as strong as ever. With that note, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year. 

Sindhu Rajan, Ph.D.

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A Commitment to Prevention

Which do you think can do a better job preventing diabetes: lifestyle intervention, or medication? The National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) is a study on this question with more than 3,200 participants. Some subjects engaged in intensive one-on-one counseling and lifestyle intervention, including better diet and exercise, and others took the anti-diabetic drug metformin. The results were startling: this intervention group cut their risk of developing diabetes by more than one half, while the drug takers reduced their risk by one third.

Every one in three persons in the United States today, a total of around 90 million people, is pre-diabetic. Being pre-diabetic means to be at risk of becoming diabetic in the next four to six years. Given the high cost of treating diabetes, insurance companies and self-insured entities have an urgent incentive to prevent Type 2 diabetes in as many people as possible. The US Preventive Services Task Force issued a recommendation in 2015 to screen all overweight individuals for abnormal blood glucose levels and refer them to intensive behavior training sessions. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have decided to take a bold step in committing to diabetes prevention by declaring that the CDC’s recognized national diabetes prevention program (“DPP”) will be eligible for reimbursement. But what can be done for patients who don’t live near a DPP session? What will providers do if they can only accommodate only 15 people in one year-long session? 

In collaboration with the American Diabetes Association and South Asian Cardiovascular Center at Advocate Heart Institute, Prana Diabetes is initiating a national diabetes prevention program in the city of Chicago, a population of 2.7 million. HabitNu is a virtual diabetes prevention program developed by Prana Diabetes and strongly aligned with CDC’s diabetes prevention program. The HabitNu program starts on October 11, 2016 at MATTER, Chicago’s healthcare incubation hub. The program includes group sessions monthly, along with continuous virtual life style intervention support every day for a whole year

These leading organizations have made a strong commitment to diabetes prevention by supporting our initiative. Support us by pledging your commitment too. Please forward this link to any one you think might qualify. You can join DPP at dppchicago.com.

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HealBe GoBe: A miracle device?

HealBe has claimed to crack the holy grail of calorie counting with its GoBe wristband device. Take a look at the claims and conclusions in this case:

Let's take a deep dive into GoBe’s technology.

What is it supposed to do?

Gobe has three sensors: an impedance sensor to measure calories, an accelerometer to measure physical activity, and a pressure sensor to measure heart rate. GoBe’s principle for calorie counting is based on a phenomenon called bio-impedance. Bio-impedance is the resistance caused by blood or tissue to the electrical current flowing through it. Variations in glucose concentrations after a meal change the electric properties of blood. In principle, it is possible to correlate changes in impedance of the blood with changes in blood glucose concentrations. But is it possible to do this without directly sampling the blood?

GoBe’s "ground breaking" technology

Noninvasive blood glucose measurements based on bio-impedance has always been a holy grail for researchers. Prediction of glucose concentration of blood kept in a test tube works well, but it faces several challenges when used in human body. Pendra® from Pendragon Medical Ltd., Switzerland was a wristwatch glucose monitor developed based on impedance technology. The device did not perform well in market due to variations in the readings in different individuals. About 30% of the patients have to discontinue the use of device after calibration as their skin types and basic skin impedance are unsuitable for the device. Moreover, the error rates were too high to be considered reliable. The production of Pendra was stopped as the company went bankrupt in 2005.

GoBe takes this technology even further. HealBe claims that GoBe’s technology is based on an algorithm that can calculate total calories from protein and fat from the glucose concentrations, and, furthermore, claims 90% accuracy. The claims are backed by a patent filed in Russia. However, Healbe repeatedly states that GoBe device should not be used as a medical device.

Healbe raised more than a million dollars in their Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. Tellspec, another device that claimed to measure calories in the food you eat, failed to ship the device to its backers after raising over $400,000 on Indiegogo. Silencing its critics, HealBe did deliver. The GoBe device is available in Amazon for $300.

HealBe raised a million crowd funded dollars to build its GoBe device

Healbe raised more than a million dollars in their Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. Tellspec, another device that claimed to measure calories in the food you eat, failed to ship the device to its backers after raising over $400,000 on Indiegogo. Silencing its critics, HealBe did deliver. The GoBe device is available in Amazon for $300.

If the device works, it will be a turning point in the fitness as well as the medical world.

Sindhu Rajan, Ph.D

 

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