The prevalence of diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces, has increased markedly over the last 50 years in parallel with increasing rates of physical inactivity and obesity. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels. In 2014, 9% of adults 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of T1DM is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge. Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world1, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Symptoms may be similar to those of T1DM, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen. Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in the elderly but it is now also occurring in younger people.
As of 2010, there are approximately 285 million people in the world who are diagnosed with T2DM compared to around 30 million in 1985 (1). The figures within the European Union (EU) are equally stark: the World Health Organization states that more than 50 million European citizens are currently affected. The epidemic growth of obesity in Europe, its aging population, and the often sedentary lifestyle of its citizens have led to an explosion in the incidence of T2DM. Based on the assumption in this report that approximately 50% of affected people are unaware of their disease, it can be estimated that approximately 60 million people in Europe are likely to be affected by T2DM.
There is an urgent need to develop cost-effective intervention strategies for diabetes. Given the enormous scale of the problem, and the fact that such a large percentage of cases arise due to an unhealthy lifestyle, personalized care systems that include innovative self-management support strategies, well-linked to the medical care of patients, are of prime importance
(1) Donath MY, Shoelson SE. Type 2 diabetes as an inflammatory disease. Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Feb;11(2):98–107. doi: 10.1038/nri2925. [PubMed: 21233852]
POWER2DM will deliver such a personalized system offering a guided action plan for self-management by combining decision support based on personalised results of interlinked predictive computer models, e-coaching and e-advice feedback functionalities based on Behavioural Change Theories, and real-time collection, processing and interpretation of personal data and self-management activities.