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Study: Delivering A Diabetes Prevention Program Through Cable Television Programming Can Be Effective In Tackling Growing Public Health Crisis

Research published by the peer-reviewed journal Obesity demonstrates the effectiveness of using video-on-demand (VOD) cable television programming to deliver core components of the Diabetes Prevention Program.

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is an evidence-based lifestyle-modification program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aimed at helping people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of developing the disease. The success of the pilot study underscores the potential for television-based health programming offered in a reality TV format to help influence the health and behavior of millions of Americans.

The article, “ A Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Using Cable Television to Deliver Diabetes Prevention Programming,” discusses study results from a 12-month pilot launched in early 2012 by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and Comcast Cable (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). The study used VOD programming on Comcast’s Xfinity platform to deliver the adapted DPP in two test markets: Philadelphia, and Knoxville, Tenn. More than 300 people participated in the study, with the goal of losing 5-7 percent of their body weight. This percentage of weight loss has been clinically proven by the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 60 percent for individuals at risk for developing the disease. The National DPP showed that even more modest weight loss has proved to be clinically meaningful: every 2.2 pounds of weight loss translates to a 16 percent decrease in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The research included two strategies for delivering the DPP: one via video-on-demand cable television alone; and one in combination with Internet-based “virtual coaching” and supplemental diabetes-prevention and lifestyle-support tools. Participants in the study lost an average of 3.3 percent of their starting body weight; participants who watched more than nine episodes of the 16-episode programming were even more successful, losing an average of 4.9 percent of their starting body weight. These percentages are consistent with the results of other efforts to implement the Diabetes Prevention Program in face-to-face settings. The study also found that offering the web-based resources did not enhance the weight loss.

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