BRUSSELS, Sept. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The GSMA mHealth Grand Tour, a 13-day cycling challenge from Brussels to Barcelona to raise awareness of diabetes and showcase the power of mobile health (mHealth) solutions, kicks off today at the Autoworld Museum in Parc Cinquantenaire, Brussels at 10:00 CET. The Tour is being presented in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation, European Region (IDF Europe), under the patronage of European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes. "There are 55 million people living with diabetes in Europe1 and about 10 per cent of the overall EU annual healthcare expenditure is being spent on diabetes 2," said Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer, GSMA. "GSMA research, developed in partnership with PwC, has already shown that mHealth can save five million people in the EU from being at risk of developing diabetes by 2017. 3 The mHealth Grand Tour will highlight how mobile technology can support diabetes prevention, diagnosis and treatment by increasing the reach and accessibility of healthcare services, cutting the cost of care and minimising the impact of the illness on people's lives." A key element of the mHealth Grand Tour is a first-of-its-kind observational study designed by Professor Michael Trenell, NIHR Senior Research Fellow and Director, MoveLab, Newcastle University, into the effects of multi-day endurance exercise on blood glucose levels, using data captured and transmitted wirelessly through a multi-vendor mHealth solution. The study will track the health and cycling performance data of elite and sub-elite athletes with type 1 diabetes, as well as cyclists without diabetes. "A physically active lifestyle is vital in managing all types of diabetes and yet there is very little published research on the physiology of how this works," commented Professor Trenell. "The mHealth Grand Tour presents a unique, invaluable opportunity to conduct research using an innovative mHealth application that functions wirelessly, without intrusion into the riders' performance. By comparing data from the three groups of athletes we hope to gather information that will benefit all people with diabetes and those at risk of diabetes."