Sayonara, sticking?

People with Type 1 diabetes could soon be saying goodbye to sticking their fingers to check blood sugar levels. This news comes from a study among children with Type 1 diabetes conducted by the University of Virginia, that tested how well an artificial pancreas developed by the school performed at managing insulin and glucose levels against the patient’s home routine. The platform, which is controlled using a smartphone, uses algorithms that wirelessly link to a blood-sugar monitor and insulin pump worn by the patient, as well as to a remote-monitoring site. The children using the device averaged more time within the target blood-sugar range without an increase in hypoglycemia than those without. Also, probably no need to worry about getting kids to check their phones.

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Who keeps messing with the thermostat?!

There is new research on a method to combat diabetes and obesity, and you won’t need a pharmacy card or a gym membership to give it a try—just permission to mess with the bottom line of the utility bill. A new study, “Healthy Excursions Outside the Thermal Comfort Zone,” shows that dropping your building’s temperature below the comfort zone (21-22 °C; 69.8-71.6 °F for you Americans) can increase metabolism and energy expenditure. Mild cold, specifically, can increase glucose metabolism and was shown to increase insulin sensitivity by 40% in patients with Type 2 diabetes over a 10-day period. “This is comparable with the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies,” according to the study. So…go adjust your coworker’s thermostat. They can thank you later.

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Apple’s top secret plan for diabetes

A secret team at Apple, made up of around 30 tech and biomedical experts, is working on a program that would use the Apple Watch as a sensor “that can noninvasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes,” according to three bean-spillers close to the project. This was envisioned by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs prior to his death. The project has been ongoing for at least five years, and is reportedly run now by Apple’s SVP of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji. How would something like this work? Good question. According to a CNBC article, the program would “[shine] a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose.” It’s like something Q would create – for a diabetic 007.

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5. Alexa, what’s my blood sugar?

Alexa could be preparing to handle that question and many more from people with diabetes following a partnership between Merck and Amazon Web Services. The two companies will work alongside Luminary Labs to run a challenge focused on using Amazon Echo’s voice-enabled software to assist those with diabetes, with the long-term hope of expanding to other chronic illnesses. The Echo, which is set to sell around 110 million devices over the next four years, may have utility in the future that’s beyond playing your favorite song or telling you the weather. With the help of developers, it could morph into a tool used to remind people of their nutrition plans or schedule their upcoming insulin dosages.

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5. Healthcare spending, an American tradition

America, best in the world at baseball, hot dogs, apple pie… and healthcare spending. Americans have spent a whopping $30.1 trillion in fact, from 1996 to 2013. Very little has been known until now about what issues have been the driving forces of such massive sums, but a recent study reported in JAMA finds that just 20 medical conditions account for over half of all spending. At the top of that list: diabetes, heart disease, and back pain. Here’s InsightCity’s recommendation: after spending $277.1 billion in 2013 alone, Americans may want to focus a bit more on the baseball and a bit less on the hot dogs and apple pie.

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