Student team aims for app to help diabetes patients dining out

A team of UC Berkeley students who are working on a smartphone app to help type 2 diabetes patients make healthy choices when dining out are heading to round 2 of the Diabetes Design Challenge in San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 6.

The D! team — with members from the School of Information, the Berkeley-Haas School of Business and the bioengineering department — envisions an app that lets users:

A host of information would be available about nutritional values of menu items on a new app proposed by Berkeley students in the "Innovations in Diabetes" hackathon.

Information about the nutritional values of menu items would be available on a new app proposed by Berkeley students in the “Innovations in Diabetes” hackathon.

  • Locate restaurants with diabetic-friendly menus.
  • Track their eating choices.
  • Get customized information about menu items.
  • Quantify progress toward individual health goals.
  • Share their dietary information with their caretakers and doctors.

The Diabetes Design Challenge is looking for winning ideas that promote patient engagement and behavioral change to help prevent and manage diabetes.

Diabetes is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes, and is the seventh-leading cause of death among Americans. More than 26 million Americans have diabetes, and 90-95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, which is primarily due to insulin resistance and reduced production of insulin by the pancreas.

The American Diabetes Association encourages diabetics to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range by eating a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fat dairy, healthy fats and lean meats or meat substitutes.

Berkeley’s D! team students won first place in the Oct. 24 Hack2Health competition at Berkeley and secured a spot in the upcoming ninth annual Berkeley-Haas Healthcare Conference organized by the student-led Haas Healthcare Association.

At the next stage, to take place at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center, the team will present their pitch to judges representing tech firms, investors and healthcare clinicians. The team with the winning pitch will receive $2,000, and the top five teams will move to the third stage of the design competition in spring 2016, which will feature a $5,000 grand prize.

The D! team includes Brian Goodness and Owen Hsiao, first-year students in the I School’s Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program, MBA students Shahida Abdul Rashid and Howard O and bioengineering student Zach Zeleznick.

More details about the recent hackathon are online.

The schedule and speaker lineup for the Nov. 6 event also are online.