Published on 1 August 2023

Digital and exercise hybrid trial programme can help reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A hybrid lifestyle intervention for women with a history of gestational diabetes encourages them to walk an extra 500 steps per day compared to those receiving standard routine care, according to a recently published study.

The randomised controlled trial conducted by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands and West Midlands, women with a history of gestational diabetes benefited from following a hybrid lifestyle intervention, which included access to the Babysteps mHealth app.

Gestational diabetes affects around 5%-20% of pregnancies and women who have had gestational diabetes are 10 times more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers are calling for more strategies to reduce the progression of gestational diabetes to type 2 diabetes.

The lifestyles and activity patterns of 293 women, all of whom had a previous history of gestational diabetes, were examined for the trial.

The recruited participants were randomly split into two groups and either received routine care or followed the hybrid lifestyle intervention.

Researchers found that the participants following the intervention walked an extra 500 steps per day although the difference was not significant. This group also reported higher self-efficacy for exercise, lower feelings of anxiety and a higher quality of life. The overall intervention was found to be cost-effective.

Two people exercising on exercise steps.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and the Real World Evidence Unit and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, lead author of the study, said: “Women with a recent history of gestational diabetes are up to 10 times more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes so it is vital that we help this population prevent a diagnosis by promoting healthy and active lifestyles.


“Babysteps is an excellent programme that empowers women with a history of gestational diabetes to take control of their health and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


“By focusing on small changes in exercise, Babysteps helps women to build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.”


The researchers are now calling for further research to improve participant engagement with physical activity interventions in multi-ethnic populations with a history of gestational diabetes.


Professor Khunti said: “It is crucial to ensure that physical activity interventions are engaging and effective for women from diverse ethnic backgrounds.


“Further research in this area is necessary to develop tailored interventions that consider cultural and linguistic factors, as well as personal preferences and barriers to physical activity.”


Developed by the multi-disciplinary team at the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC) and supported by NIHR ARC East Midlands and North West London, Babysteps is the first digital programme of its kind to offer support and advice to women at risk of developing type 2 diabetes as a result of gestational diabetes.


If you are interested in finding out more about Babysteps email here 


Read the report in Diabetic Medicine

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