The decision is part of health secretary Matt Hancock’s pledge to embrace technology as part of a wider effort to tackle high diabetes rates, as well as related conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure.
The Low Carb Program app, available on iOS and Android, now features in the list of online tools approved by NHS Digital, and provides people with type 2 diabetes with the opportunity to make lifestyle changes, chiefly by eating a real-food diet, to help improve their health.
As well as enabling people to lose weight, improve their HbA1c and even put type 2 diabetes into remission, the Low Carb Program is helping to save NHS costs by reducing medication prescriptions. In just over two years, the program has demonstrated a cost saving to the NHS of £835 per person, per year in prescription costs.
Charlotte Summers, Chief Operating Officer of Diabetes Digital Media, said: “In 2018 over 13,000 people in England completed the Low Carb Program, saving the NHS £10.8m. We expect that to increase three-fold with a saving of more than £30m in 12 months.”
Over 380,000 people have signed up to the Low Carb Program, which comprises a 12-week evidence-based structured behavioural change program. Upon completion, the Low Carb Program community can share recipes and support each other, and our teams of nutritionists regularly provide additional resources and materials.
The one-year Low Carb Program outcomes were published last year in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research, which revealed more than 40% of people with type 2 diabetes who start the program on medication eliminate a drug from the regimen at the one-year mark.
The program, which can be commissioned as structured education on the NHS having received QISMET approval earlier this year, also received CE Mark approval in June.
Dr David Unwin, a Lancashire GP and 2016 NHS Innovator of the Year who helped to develop the app, said: “I reversed my diabetes on a low carb diet. I don’t get any money from inventing the app. I’m just happy to see patients stop their diabetes.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “We have very rigorous testing. Patients can be confident of using the app.”