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Diabeatit is an Instagram-based cooking challenge that helps millennials with type 2 diabetes learn better eating habits. 


How might we help millennials with type 2 diabetes develop better eating habits?

My Role​​

Project management, user research, concept and prototype development, pitch presentation


Desk Research

We began our research by looking at who has type 2 diabetes and how they receive treatment for it. We learned that type 2 diabetes is often caused by obesity, stemming from poor eating habits, lack of exercise and genetics.  One of the biggest insights we gleaned was that treatment for diabetes is driven by major behavioral changes, especially when it comes to eating. 

We also discovered that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing among one group of Americans in particular: millennials. In the last two years, the number of millennials with diabetes increased by 4%, which was the largest increase of any age group. ​

Primary Research

​We conducted interviews with 12 participants, including patients with diabetes, clinicians, dietitians and patient family members. In addition to tapping into our personal networks, we used Ethnio to distribute a screener survey, which we used to recruit participants from social media support groups.

We synthesized our research by conducting a card sorting exercise with our findings from our interviews. We came away with the following key insights, and narrowed them down to three guiding concepts: 

We decided to focus on finding a way to tap into existing behaviors, to help make adjusting to new eating habits a little bit easier.  We saw an opportunity in the fact that diabetes prevalence was increasing among millennials, and decided to design for that age group.  


We considered common behaviors among millennials. We knew that a lot of millennials used social media, especially Instagram. We also knew that food was a popular type of content shared across the platform. We set out to find evidence to validate that anecdotal knowledge and discovered that:

Further, we observed the popularity and success of diet and fitness programs on Instagram, like Whole30 and Kayla Itsines' BBG program. These programs have relied on the social pressure inherent to a public platform like Instagram. We decided to leverage Instagram in a similar way, and designed a cooking challenge that garnered motivation, accountability and ownership for millennials with type 2 diabetes. 


Using Instagram meant that we could easily test our challenge model. We created a Diabeatit account, and invited our classmates to participate in a challenge by make diabetes-friendly meals at home, posting a photo of their meal them its recipe and the #diabeatit hashtag, and voting for their favorite posts. We developed instructional posts explaining our judging criteria and how the challenge worked. Finally, once the winner was selected, we featured them in a post and gave them a prototype of our reward box.

We discovered that requiring users to include a full recipe in a challenge entry post was too cumbersome, and in some cases prevented them from completing their post, even after making a meal and taking a photo. We heard positive feedback about the repository of recipes created by multiple posts, and that seeing other people participating was motivating factor. 

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Diabeatit is an Instagram-based food challenge tailored for millennials with type 2 diabetes. You can visit Diabeatit on Instagram at @_diabeatit_.


On a biweekly basis, users are challenged to make diabetes-friendly meals, and post photos and recipes to their personal accounts, using the Diabeatit hashtag. Three finalists are selected based on healthiness, presentation and popularity. The winner is then chosen by a team of dietitians. The winner is featured in a post alongside their recipe, and receive a box of healthy snacks delivered to their home. The Diabeatit Instagram account also serves as a collection of recipes for followers, whether they choose to participate in the challenges or not.

Diabeatit essentially costs nothing to start. The platform, Instagram, already exists. We would grow the community organically, by building partnerships with key influencers, and

engaging with the community through comments, likes, and feature posts and stories. 

Returning to our guiding insights about what our users need--ownership, accountability, motivation--we believe Diabeatit will be successful in the following ways: 

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