Weight loss is a mainstay in every list of New Year’s resolutions. It is estimated that around 4 out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese, and the high prevalence of this condition imposes a significant burden on the US health system. For people with diabetes, weight loss is particularly important because it is associated with better blood glucose control and improved clinical outcomes. Here we will look at how remote patient monitoring can help promote weight loss and improve blood glucose control.
How weight loss affects glucose control
A robust body of evidence supports the fact that for people with diabetes, weight loss improves glucose control and reduces the need for glucose-lowering medications. A modest weight loss of just 3-5% of total body weight already produces clinical benefits. In overweight and obese patients with diabetes, weight loss of 2-5% may produce lower HbA1c levels by 0.2-0.3%, while a greater weight loss of 5-10% may produce HbA1c reductions of up to 0.6-1.0%. Additionally, weight loss may lead to better quality of life, lower blood pressure readings, and lower blood cholesterol levels, which reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.
People with prediabetes who lose weight may experience a delayed progression to full-blown diabetes, or even prevent it altogether. Research has shown that weight loss of 5-7% with regular exercise can cut the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 58%. It is therefore no surprise that people with diabetes and obesity are always advised regarding proper diet and effective lifestyle interventions and strongly encouraged to achieve their ideal body weight.
With the recent trends in telehealth, more and more people are subscribing to remote patient monitoring (RPM) platforms to better manage their health and have better availability of healthcare services for their medical conditions outside of a traditional clinical setting. Devices that monitor and transmit clinical data to health care providers are conveniently utilized even in the comfort of one’s home, allowing for better coordination of care between patients and providers. The following demonstrates 3 possible ways RPM can help people with diabetes in their weight loss journey.
Track weight loss and body composition
Since weight loss is the goal, then the ability to accurately track one’s weight is essential to determine if there is progress. A simple weighing scale may be the bare minimum requirement, but going one step further, it can be argued that utilizing a scale that tracks body composition changes may give more insight into the weight loss process.
With a basic weighing scale, a patient can only track weight changes, but this will not let them differentiate between loss of fat mass or muscle mass, or even just water weight. A person who lost 1 kilogram may possibly have lost 2 kilograms of muscle and gained 1 kilogram of fat, while another person who gained 1 kilogram may have lost 1 kilogram of fat and gained 2 kilograms of muscle. In these examples, the person who gained 1 kilogram was the one who had better results; relying on a simple weighing scale would have led to a false interpretation of the weight change.
Smart scales provided by RPM solutions like the DrKumo RPM platform not only measure body composition changes, but also track and store this data, allowing patients and providers to monitor weight changes and trends over time. This allows for a better understanding of what interventions in the weight loss program are effective or not, and helps in fine-tuning and individualizing strategies to achieve weight loss.
Monitor glucose regularly
As diet and lifestyle interventions are inextricably linked to weight loss, they are also closely connected to glycemic variability and control. People with diabetes who undertake these measures ineffectively will likely have glucose levels that are erratic or uncontrolled. Hence, using RPM devices such as a connected glucometer can definitely support patients in their weight loss efforts. Closely monitoring glucose levels during the weight loss process can help patients know if they are eating too much or too little, and help them make smarter food choices and develop better eating habits. This can also help them avoid scenarios such as hypoglycemic episodes prior to or during exercise, thereby helping them exercise safely and more optimally.
Promote exercise safety
Besides proper nutrition, regular exercise is always strongly recommended for weight loss, with the usual recommendation being at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 3-5 times a week, for a minimum of 150 minutes total per week. The use of RPM devices can enable patients to exercise safely and effectively. For example, a smartwatch with heart rate and ECG capabilities can alert patients for the presence of dangerous arrhythmias, or when the heart rate exceeds the maximal heart rate, prompting a patient to rest or decrease exercise intensity. Likewise, a pulse oximeter can also show heart rate and detect low oxygen levels, which may be particularly important for diabetes patients with pulmonary or cardiac complications who still wish to exercise. Blood pressure fluctuations can also be measured with blood pressure monitors, prior to, during, and after exercise, which can also help patients avoid exercising or adjust exercise intensity if blood pressure readings are abnormal, reducing the risk of events such as hypertensive crises or stroke.
Remote patient monitoring platforms such as DrKumo, with its array of connected medical devices, can be useful in helping patients with diabetes lose weight. Tracking body composition changes, monitoring glucose levels closely, and promoting exercise safety, are the means by which RPM can help people with diabetes in their weight loss journey. This helps patients and health care providers fine-tune and individualize programs and discern which interventions work, leading to better clinical outcomes and a more effective weight loss strategy.
- Adult Obesity Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sept. 30, 2021.
- Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM (2013) AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. Circulation 63: 2985-3023.
- Obesity and Weight Management for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2022. Diabetes Care 2022;45(Supplement_1):S113–S124.
- National Diabetes Prevention Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.