Mobile health for prevention of type 2 diabetes in India

Visiting PhD candidate discusses her research.

by Shruti Muralidharan – PhD candidate from Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE)


From Monday 14 to Friday 18 August, Shruti Muralidharan, a PhD candidate from Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), visited the ACBRD. During her visit, she presented her ongoing PhD research to the ACBRD team.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in India has increased considerably in recent decades. Currently, there are at least 69 million with diagnosed diabetes in India, and this is expected to rise to 123 million by 2040. To a great extent, this is attributed to modifiable risk factors such as physical inactivity, obesity, and changing dietary patterns. Earlier prevention trials that focussed on these modifiable risks have shown a significant impact on decreasing the incidence of type 2 diabetes. However, these trials were mostly face-to-face and therefore a probable high burden to deliver, resulting in the intervention reaching a limited number of people.

The growth in mobile phone use worldwide provides a promising avenue for delivering type 2 diabetes prevention interventions. The field of ‘mHealth’ is booming, as mobile phone technologies for health such as short message service (SMS) and applications (apps) provide the advantage of reaching a large proportion of the population. In India, the use of mobile phones and internet has been steady, and they have been used in several diabetes management studies. Diabetes prevention using ‘mHealth’, however, is a new field.

Shruti’s PhD, therefore, explores the feasibility of a mHealth ‘app’ that is designed to impart diabetes prevention education to individuals at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes in India. In her study, ‘high risk’ is defined as someone who either has pre-diabetes or obesity (i.e., 25 kg/m2 and above) or both. Shruti’s objectives are focussed on whether the app is effective in terms of weight loss, improvement in cardiometabolic risk factors (such as lipids, blood pressure, insulin and blood glucose), and behavioural and social variables such as physical activity and diet. Shruti described the intervention and gave an overview of her study design. The ACBRD team listened enthusiastically and participated with many thoughts from their experience.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Shruti Muralidharan (E: smurali@deakin.edu.au).

Shruti Muralidharan is affiliated to:

  • Global obesity centre (GLOBE), WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Centre for Population Health Research, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
  • Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, WHO Collaborating Centre for Noncommunicable Diseases & IDF Centre of Education, Chennai, India