MYSUGR APP REVIEW FROM A YOUNG WOMAN WITH TYPE 1:
“MySugr is a colourful, fun app to log your blood glucose and insulin intake during the day. Well designed, well functional and has a scoring system in place to make it into a game with your other diabetic friends and family. Challenges are also incorporated into the app in My Sugr Pro as well as other customisable aspects. Either subscribed to it, or not, it’s very helpful to keep track with your phone which is more likely to be on your person than a pen and logbook. Displays your blood glucse with graphs instead of just numbers which is great when you want to see how you are over a day or weeks. Highly recommended.” August 2016
TRY THIS: GLOOKO – THIS APP WILL SYNC YOUR BLOOD GLUCOSE READINGS FROM ONE OF AROUND 30 COMPATIBLE METERS TO YOUR SMARTPHONE, TO WHICH YOU CAN ALSO ADD YOUR CARB INTAKE, ACTIVITY DATA AND INSULIN / MEDICATION DETAILS. YOU CAN SHARE THE DATA VIA THE INTERNET WITH YOUR DIABETES TEAM. SUITABLE FOR ANDROID OR IOS. IF YOU HAVE ANDROID IT IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH CARESENS BUT APPLE PHONES ARE! IF YOU DO TRY IT PLEASE REPORT BACK VIA THE FACEBOOK PAGE!
This is an article on diabetes apps from James Nuttall, a dietitian in Auckland who surveyed a bunch of young adults in Auckland. If you have any feedback on particular apps please put it on the Facebook page – thanks!
Which diabetes app?
Smartphones may not be for everyone, but many people in New Zealand now own one. Apps are one reason why smartphones are smart, and for people with diabetes, there are thousands of apps designed for diabetes management and tens of thousands for supporting a healthy lifestyle. So, can these diabetes apps help you manage your diabetes better than you already are?
Just as there is no diabetes management plan that suits everyone, there is not one app that will suit everyone. Knowing how you want the app to help you and what you want to use it for are important to consider when deciding if an app will support your diabetes management. From our research at the Auckland Diabetes Centre in a small group of people with type 1 diabetes, most did not know what is available and would be more likely to use apps if given guidance.
To help you decide if apps can help you manage your diabetes, I have highlighted and compared the main features of five apps in the table. These are not the “best” available apps because no app has been proven to be better than another. You will find many websites with lists of the “best diabetes apps”, these are often not very helpful as many of these apps are not available in New Zealand and they are generally reviewed at face value. Since there are so many apps, I included the names of similar apps where possible to provide you with other options if these do not work for you.
What do these apps do? Most diabetes apps include functions for health monitoring (such as blood glucoses, medications, weight) and providing nutrition information (carbohydrate counting, healthy recipes, calorie counting). In a recent survey conducted in Waitemata DHB, the main reasons why people with diabetes are using apps for diabetes management is: tracking diabetes data; accessibility and convenience; carbohydrate counting; and insulin calculations.
If your main goal is managing your food intake, then there are many apps that can help with this. Most of these apps focus on encouraging you to record what you eat and tell you how much calories, carbohydrate and other nutrients are in the foods you eat. One example, MyFitnessPal, is the most downloaded health and fitness app in New Zealand. This app focuses on weight loss as its main goal through calorie counting, which can be an effective tool for weight management. However, many people with type 1 diabetes use this app for carbohydrate counting. One issue with doing so is that most of the food data is entered by users and this information is not checked for accuracy. For this reason, I would not recommend this as the first app people use for carbohydrate counting. However, an experienced carbohydrate counter may be able to spot when there is a major error with a food product, which could allow this app to be used safely.
If you are looking to use an app as your main method of blood glucose monitoring, then finding an app that works easily for you should be the priority. One benefit of the tracking functions of these apps compared to a log book is they often have colourful graphs, charts and the ability to set reminders. One issue is that entering data on a daily basis can become tedious, and the difficulty of doing so varies greatly between apps. Some apps attempt to overcome this by using gamification, in essence making a game out of monitoring your diabetes. One example, mySugr Companion, uses a diabetes monster that you tame each day by logging enough information into the app to 50 points.
There are very few apps for healthy eating or diabetes management developed here in New Zealand. This means even fewer use a New Zealand food database such as EasyDietDiary. At Auckland DHB we run a programme called DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) for people with type 1 diabetes. Thankfully this is changing with Foodswitch and the upcoming Saltswitch, as well as a Dietitian working in Waitemata called Zhuoshi Zhang is developing a healthy eating app for type 2 diabetes for her PhD. For people with type 1 diabetes wanting something made in New Zealand, one of our DAFNE graduates at ADHB who is a software developer will be launching his own diabetes management app prior to Christmas called Type 1 with a New Zealand carbohydrate counting database included.
A major drawback of diabetes management apps is they are rarely designed based on scientific evidence shown to help improve blood glucose levels or go through any rigorous testing. So, if you are happy with your diabetes management and already have access to sources of information you trust, then apps may not provide you with much additional benefit at this stage. As a dietitian working with people who have diabetes, I see the important role health professionals have in providing the best advice around apps. Myself and a small group of dietitians are reviewing nutrition and health apps. Our aim is to provide patients and health professionals with some guidance around what is available, how well they achieve their aims and who these apps can benefit. Watch this space!
|App||Carbs and cals||RapidCalc||Foodswitch New Zealand||MyFitnessPal||mySugr Companion|
|Most useful for||Visual people who want to estimate their nutritional intake.||Technical people who want the calculations built into most insulin pumps.||Comparing food products with a visual scale.||People who want to track their food and exercise to manage weight.||People who want to monitor variables influencing their diabetes.|
|Platform||Apple and Android||Apple only||Apple and Android||Apple, Android and Website||Apple and Android|
|Cost (NZD)||$7.99||$9.99||Free||Free||Free (Pro version $28.36)|
|Food database||UK and US foods, with food photos and can add own meals/recipes.||None||Yes, includes only NZ food products||Yes, includes entries by company and users||None|
|Export records via email||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Reminders/warnings||No||Reminders for basal insulin doses and post-meal blood glucose recording||NA||Reminders for meal logging, warning when you eat far too few calories||No (Pro version – for logging)|
|Monitoring functions e.g. blood glucose, weight, meds||Blood glucoses (Android only, no summary); carbohydrate in grams and portions; rapid and basal insulin doses.||Blood glucoses with graphs and summary.
Carbohydrate in grams or portions.
Rapid and basal insulin doses.
|NA||NA||Blood glucoses with graph and summary. (Pro version – insulin pump basal rates)|
|Rapid acting insulin dose suggestion (for people with Type 1 diabetes)||Yes – basic, can include a correction dose.||Yes – complex. Includes: carbohydrate count with ratios; blood glucose target; insulin on board ; exercise/activity; alcohol and recent hypo.||NA||NA||No|
|Nutrition analysis||Nutritional allowance based on personal variables||No||Traffic light scale for comparing similar food products||Nutritional allowance based on personal variables||No|
|Similar apps||Figwee Portion Explorer (Apple, $2.59)||Insulin bolus calculator (Android $4.20), Insulin calculator (Apple, Free)||Foodeye (Apple, Free)||Calorie counter by Fat Secret (Apple & Android, Free), EasyDietDiary (Apple, Free)||OnTrack Diabetes (Android, Free) Social Diabetes (Apple & Android, Free), Dario (Apple & Android, Free)|