Benefits of Using Apps for Diabetes Self-Management Support
Many people living with diabetes may find that keeping track of their diet, physical activity, and blood glucose levels can be difficult to manage. Luckily, there are many smartphone apps available that can make managing your diabetes easier. These apps assist you in achieving your diabetes self-management goals by providing easy-to-use platforms that take some of the ‘guesswork’ out of activities like food tracking or blood glucose monitoring. This factsheet details some of the most useful apps for diabetes self-management support found in the App Store on iOS devices and Google Play Store on Androids. Note: Clemson University is not endorsing any of the following apps. This factsheet is meant for informational purposes only and is not to be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
Not everyone has access to Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that display frequent blood glucose readings and daily trends. Traditional glucometers may store blood glucose readings, but that information can be difficult to visualize and access due to screen sizes or outdated designs. There are a few apps available with easy-to-use layouts to help people with diabetes keep track of their blood glucose readings and identify long/short-term patterns in their readings.
Developer: Azumio Inc.
Glucose Buddy allows users to track blood glucose readings as well as food intake, medications, and physical activity. Glucose Buddy also has a unique and useful feature that exports your data into printable PDF reports for your next healthcare provider visit. This app can integrate with Dexcom devices and Apple Health if you have an iPhone. While the free app features allow you to visualize trends in your blood glucose readings, a premium subscription is also offered which allows users to view advanced graphs and estimate their A1C.
Developer: Informed Data Systems, Inc
The One Drop app tracks blood glucose readings, medications, diet, physical activity, weight, blood pressure levels, and more. Data collected in this app can even be shared across other apps, such as MyFitnessPal, and devices like Fitbit, Dexcom, One Touch and Accu-Check. One Drop also offers an optional Bluetooth glucose meter for purchase that sends all readings to the One Drop app on your phone and other connected devices.
The MySugr app helps track blood glucose levels, food intake and medications to create insightful reports for your healthcare team. The app can easily be upgraded to the pro version for a fee. Within the pro version, users can utilize the ‘insulin calculator’ to help calculate proper insulin doses and corrections. Reminders to check blood glucose levels and PDF/Excel reports can also be generated using the pro version. Some Accu-Check devices will activate the pro version of MySugr at no cost to you, so be sure to check the compatibility of your devices.
Developer: Sirma Medical Systems JSC
Diabetes:M allows users to collect very detailed data on blood glucose measurements and medication administration. Users can record the date and time of their meals as well as the amount of carbohydrates consumed during each meal. This data is presented in an easy-to-read color-coded logbook and can also be displayed in charts and graphs that may be sent to your physician via email. Health data from the app can be synced and shared with a variety of other popular apps and devices. Food intake can also be recorded within the app by tracking manually or scanning the barcode on pre-packaged foods.
Developer: LabStyle Innovation Ltd
The Dario Health app is part of the larger Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System which includes the Dario glucometer, lancets, and test strips. The app is compatible for use with Dario glucometers which can be synced with the app to upload blood glucose readings directly to your smartphone device without any additional steps. Once blood glucose levels are recorded, users can see trends in their readings, such as the percentage of blood glucose measurements within their goal range and their estimated A1C value. Data from this app can be shared with others via email, including your primary care provider. For those who suffer from severe hypoglycemic events, the Dario Health app can also generate a text message that includes the user’s low blood sugar reading and GPS location to share with up to four emergency contacts. The complete Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System can be purchased from stores like Walmart or online at the Dario Health website. One of the great features of this system is that it can be purchased using Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts. However, costs may vary depending on your insurance coverage.
Sugarmate (Apple, Android devices must access Sugarmate through a mobile web page: https://sugarmate.io/home)
Developer: Sugarmate, LLC
Sugarmate is the only app on this list authorized as a Dexcom Data Partner. This means that the app’s features work seamlessly with the Dexcom device to collect and integrate health data. This app may be particularly helpful for young users because Family Sharing on Apple Devices is allowed, and all user data can be synced to multiple devices. Sugarmate also has the capability to call your phone if your blood glucose levels are too high or too low and can even text family and friends when these extremes happen.
Mental Health and Community Support
Struggling to keep blood glucose levels within recommended ranges and managing food intake can make mental health an afterthought for those diagnosed with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing depression or anxiety than those without diabetes. People with diabetes may also experience a phenomenon called “diabetes distress,” which occurs when feelings of extreme stress are brought on by the overwhelming nature of continuous monitoring and self-management. In the event that you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts or other mental health emergencies, the suicide hotline can be reached by dialing 988.
Additionally, it can be difficult to stay on track with lifestyle changes if you do not have a strong support system in place. While it is important to speak to healthcare professionals about any mental health issues you may be facing, there are apps that can be helpful resources in maintaining good habits to support your mental health. Software developers have also created online communities for people who are seeking support discussions with others who have the same diagnosis. Some of the apps listed below, such as MyPlate Calorie Counter, have integrated community support features, but apps such as Bezzy T2D are designed solely for community support.
Developer: Feelmo Ltd
Feelmo is a completely free app that claims to aid in anxiety, stress, and depression relief. Techniques similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are all used in the app to help users process their feelings and emotions. Users can choose how they wish to reflect, allowing them to personalize their experience and receive the most benefit. The app also provides multiple links to resources and articles that discuss anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, insecurity, sleep, and relationships.
Developer: Round Rabbit Ltd.
“Hector” is a Certified Artificial Intelligence Therapist, created with the help of numerous human therapists, that assists those who do not have access to traditional therapy. While the app makes no claims to replace human therapists, the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot integrates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness techniques to help users cope with issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
Developer: Being Cares, Inc.
being emphasizes the importance for those experiencing mental health struggles to identify specific ways of coping with their mental health issues. The app features short “mini therapies” that are specific to troubles you may experience on a day-to-day basis. These mini therapies are similar to “pep talks” led by mental health professionals as they guide you through your specific feelings and emotions. The sessions only last a few minutes and allow time to journal and reflect on what you are feeling in the current moment. Upon opening the app, bright, cheerful music plays; it is recommended that you use headphones for the full immersive experience.
Developer: Healthline Media, Inc
Bezzy T2D is an app that joins together thousands of people living with type 2 diabetes into one online community. There are various groups within the app that users can join to gain the support of others. Users also have the chance to connect with others by viewing personalized member profiles and can match with those who have similarities in characteristics such as age and physical location. Healthline Media, Bezzy’s developer, offers an array of similar apps for community engagement with people who have conditions other than type 2 diabetes, such as psoriasis, breast cancer, depression, and more. Note: The Bezzy T2D community discussions are moderated by guides who are living with type 2 diabetes. These guides may or may not be clinically licensed.
Tracking food intake can prove to be very useful for weight management and weight loss. Tracking food intake can also help you to better understand changes in your blood glucose, providing not only you but also your doctor with a more comprehensive view of factors influencing your blood glucose levels. Basic food logs can help track important macronutrients for blood sugar management, such as carbohydrates and protein, while more comprehensive apps can help you track weight loss, personal goals, and water intake.
Developer: Calorie King
CalorieKing is a free ‘food database’ that allows users to quickly search for foods and compare their nutritional content. The app works by organizing foods into categories such as food groups, brands, restaurants, and fast-food chains to simplify finding a specific food. Additionally, there is a built-in barcode feature that allows users to scan packaged food items for quick nutrition information and serving size suggestions.
Developer: Wombat Apps LLC
Carb Manager is a great resource that makes daily logging of calories, carbohydrates, and other macronutrients manageable via an easy-to-use layout. Carb Manager also has a “snap & track” feature that allows you to scan the barcode on food items to quickly analyze their nutrition information. For those looking to lose weight, the app also allows users to track their weight and gives personalized insights on progress.
Developer: MyFitnessPal, Inc
Like Carb Manager, MyFitnessPal is more than just a calorie tracker. The food log portion of the app shows the breakdown of macronutrients you are consuming each meal. MyFitnessPal also has a barcode scanner that allows you to log store-bought foods instantly. The app even has a feature that allows users to scan their plate of food to log entire meals at once, reducing the amount of time it would normally take to log each individual item. There are over 150 healthy recipes from registered dietitians featured within the app, as well as workout routines that can be saved for future use.
Developer: Foodcuate, Ltd.
Fooducate is a food tracker that logs calorie and macronutrient intake. This app features a unique food rating system that assigns a “grade” based on the health quality of the food you are eating. Just scan the barcode on your food, and Fooducate will give it a grade (A, B, C, etc.). Then, the app may offer suggestions for healthier options. For readers who have iPhones, Fooducate can easily be integrated with the Apple Health app. Most features described above come with the free version, but additional features may only be available with an in-app purchase.
MyPlate Calorie Counter (Android and Apple)
Developer: Leaf Group Ltd.
MyPlate Calorie Counter seems to have fewer features than the other food tracking apps listed, but nonetheless, it is still a great resource. Users are able to track their calories and macronutrients as well as water intake. MyPlate Calorie Tracker also displays a list of the highest calorie foods that users consume and offers an 8-week meal plan to help balance macronutrient intake. Like some of the other apps, MyPlate Calorie Counter features healthy recipes, short exercises, and a community group that you can join to motivate others and maintain a healthy level of accountability.
Developer: MyNetDiary Inc
With its many connection options to Apple Watches, Fitbits, Garmin watches, and Withings devices, MyNetDiary is sure to make food tracking an accessible endeavor. The app has a built-in food scanner and contains a variety of recipes for those with special eating preferences (e.g., vegan, high protein, keto, etc.). There is no account required to start using this app and no in-app advertisements, which can be appealing to those who just want to quickly log their meals. While the free version has everything you may need in a food tracker, a “pro” version is also available for purchase.
It is very important to get adequate amounts of weekly physical activity, especially for people living with type 2 diabetes. For most adults, this means getting 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. However, fewer than 55% of American adults meet the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic activity, and less than 25% meet the standards for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. For those who struggle to get enough activity, many say it is difficult to find a fun, simple workout regimen to follow. Finding workouts that cater to current fitness levels and future goals can be a challenge, especially for those who are just beginning their fitness journeys. In recent years, we have seen an astonishing increase in physical activity apps that serve a variety of purposes. Users are bound to find at least one app that meets their individual needs.
Developer: Nike, Inc
Nike Training Club: Fitness is a completely free app that offers an assortment of ways for users to be active. From yoga and core workouts to workouts for athletes, Nike Training Club features programs for all fitness levels. In addition to in-app workouts, the app also features videos on building healthy habits and wellness guidance. Users can connect with friends on the app to challenge each other and track their activity and achievements.
Developer: Walk Productions, Inc.
Walk at Home is offered in a variety of formats, including an app that is available for download on Apple and Android devices. Walk at Home is a subscription-based fitness app aimed at helping users get active in the comfort of their own homes. While the name suggests that users will only see walking content, the app actually offers much more. Users are given customized daily workout videos to follow, and additional videos can be downloaded for offline use at any convenient time. The vast workout library includes cardio, strength training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) plans in addition to the classic walking workouts.
Google Fit (Android and Apple)
Developer: Google LLC
What sets Google Fit apart from other apps on this list is its unique collaboration with the World Health Organization and American Heart Association. Together, these groups worked to create what the app calls “Heart Points” which can be equated to minutes of “heart pumping” activity— one Heart Point equals one minute of moderate to intense physical activity. The more minutes of activity that are recorded in the app, the more Heart Points you earn. Users can set daily activity goals and can keep track of their physical activity and sleep throughout the day by manually entering this information or by connecting a fitness device that is compatible with the app. Visit the Google Fit website to see a complete listing of apps that are supported by Google Fit.
For the kids-at-heart, the Walkr app by Fourdesire is a fun way to track steps. This pedometer doubles as a game in which users walk to complete missions and discover new planets within the gamified universe. Users can also invite friends to create a community in which players motivate each other to reach their daily step goals.
Yoga for Weight Loss & Fitness (Apple only)
Developer: Fast Builder Limited
This free app features a wide variety of yoga workouts that are great for people of all activity levels and abilities. Yoga for Weight Loss & Fitness has yoga workouts that are low-impact and aid in flexibility. The app also has workouts specifically designed to help build strength and endurance. Yoga for Weight Loss & Fitness connects with Apple Health and is completely free, with no in-app purchases required.
The above list is by no means exhaustive but rather serves as a starting point for those who are interested in exploring the vast world of diabetes self-management support apps. As you can see, the number of apps that are conducive to diabetes self-management is large and continues to grow day by day. Whether an app offers community support or streamlines the process of tracking your physical activity, there really is something for everybody.
- [being App Logo]. (n.d.) Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=to.being.now&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Bezzy T2D App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/search?q=bezzy%20t2d&c=apps&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [CalorieKing App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.calorieking.calorieking_mobile&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Carb Manager App Logo]. (n.d.) Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wombatapps.carbmanager&hl=en_GB&gl=US
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Diabetes and mental health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/mental-health.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Exercise or Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Get Active! Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html.
- [Dario Health App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.labstyle.darioandroid&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Diabetes:M App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mydiabetes&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Feelmo App Logo]. (n.d.). App Store. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/feelmo-mental-health-support/id1547594036
- [Fooducate App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fooducate.nutritionapp&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Glucose Buddy App Logo]. (n.d.) Google Play. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/glucose-buddy-diabetes-tracker/id294754639
- [Google Fit App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.fitness&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Hector App Logo]. (2022). App Store. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/hector-ai-cbt-self-help/id1609458561
- [MyFitnessPal App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.myfitnesspal.android&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [MyNetDiary App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fourtechnologies.mynetdiary.ad&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [MyPlate Calorie Tracker App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/start-simple-with-myplate/id1469064093
- [mysugr App Logo]. (n.d.) Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mysugr.android.companion&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Nike Training Club: Fitness App Logo]. Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nike.ntc&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [One Drop App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=today.onedrop.android&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Sugarmate App Logo]. (2022). App Store. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sugarmate-diabetes-tracker/id1111093108
- [Walk at Home App Logo] (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tv.uscreen.walkathome&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Walking for Weight Loss App Logo]. (n.d.). App Store. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/walking-for-weight-loss/id1434647111
- [Walkr App Logo]. (n.d.). Google Play. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fourdesire.spacewalk&hl=en_US&gl=US
- [Yoga for Weight Loss & Fitness App Logo] (2022). App Store. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/yoga-for-weight-loss-fitness/id1566561862