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(Credit: Courtesy of Sweetch)

With repellent rain, sleet, and snow outside and inviting pies, cakes, and cookies inside, the holidays are perhaps the hardest time of year to pass up those extra helpings of dessert for a run. This is particularly true for those with prediabetes, who already struggle with keeping their sugar intake in check. Sweetch was developed to aid this population, at risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

"Our mission is to help users prevent Type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle," said Sweetch CEO Dana Chanan, formerly a top executive team member at Playtech, 888, and Snaptu (acquired by Facebook), who co-founded the app with her partners Ilan Sinai and Eran Kroitoru.

Sweetch, a clinically proven, AI-powered, behavioral-change-engine-driven coaching app for iPhone and Android, uses users' existing life habits, preferences, schedules, and locations, as well as supportive and motivational messaging to set more actionable nutritional and fitness goals that they are then more likely to follow.

SEE: 9 best food tracking apps

With two out of five Americans at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it's important for more prediabetic people to have access to preventative tools like Sweetch. Existing Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP), relying on human coaches have been proven to help participants, but not at scale.

"We targeted this condition, in particular, with a fully automated solution because we learned that there are human-based diabetes prevention programs out there where there was already clinical proof that they are doing a good job with the population that they're treating," Chanan said. "And it's a big enough epidemic that you can actually help a big population in a way that's scalable and less expensive."

If the users with prediabetes follow the app's recommendations -- 150 minutes a week of physical activity and a diet that encourages a five to seven percent reduction in weight -- they will significantly reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to recommendations from the DPP, CDC, and WHO.

But the app's AI engine offers far more than just generalized recommendations. Anyone, who can gain access to the app, through an access code that comes from their employer, medical provider, or health insurance company can look forward to a personalized risk assessment, based on Sweetch's proprietary machine-learning platform, as well as tailored recommendations that consider their life habits and behaviors, calendars, locations, and current weather conditions.

With all this info at hand, the app can not only better treat the user's individual health situation but also better motivate them to live a healthier life by making the recommendations easier to incorporate into their existing routines -- especially on those cold and foreboding winter days.

"We don't do the 10-thousand-steps-per-day-for-everyone generic recommendation," Chanan said. "Our program is developed and adapted based on the individual's existing activity, willingness to change, and progress. So if the weather outside is too cold to do the activity outside, we recommend doing it indoors when they're home or at their workplace, which is something that doesn't exist in any other diabetes prevention app out there."

If you can't get access to the app, because your employer, health provider, or insurance carrier hasn't signed up, you can still make healthy improvements using Chanan's direct-to-consumer app, Get.Up (iOS, Android), also built using Sweetch's behavioral engine.

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Takeaways

  • Sweetch's mission is to help users prevent Type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that incorporates more exercise and improved nutrition.
  • AI-powered Sweetch tailors individualized recommendations to users based on their personalized risk assessment, existing life habits and behaviors, and calendars, location data, and current weather conditions.

Also see

The #SelfCare app lets you take a digital mental health day
New Brain Power app helps those with autism improve social skills
How to get a quick appointment with a doctor using the Solv health app
How tech makes life with diabetes easier (CNET)
India startup helps track diabetes with smartphones (ZDNet)
#WeAreNotWaiting: Diabetics are hacking their health, because traditional systems have failed them (TechRepublic)

Joshua is an editor for CNET's Download.com. He covers the mobile tech and apps that power our lives and interviews celebrities about their favorite apps. Previously, he worked as an editor at Healthline and Gay.com and as a contributing writer for Mac Directory, MacAddict, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, and SF Chronicle.