Sanofi-Aventis launched an iPhone application aimed at helping diabetics count calories on the go.

The free GoMeals app draws on the CalorieKing nutritional database to give carb counts for menu items at 200 chain restaurants as well as à la carte estimates for standard dishes and 25,000 food items. The app’s “Today’s Plate” feature allows users to tally their daily caloric intake, along with the distribution of carbs, fats and proteins, as represented in a pie chart on the touch screen. Users can search by restaurant, based on GPS location, or by type of cuisine.

“Say you’re at TGI Friday’s, and there’s hidden carbs in something like gravy. This app can tell you what that carb count is,” said Lynn Crowe, senior marketing manager, metabolism at Sanofi-Aventis. “I used it last night in a Thai food restaurant to look up red curry chicken. I don’t know what’s in there. App to the rescue.”  

The app, developed by Kansas shop InTouch Solutions, bears the Sanofi-Aventis name but not those of any of the company’s diabetes products, which include Lantus and Apidra. Sanofi-Aventis is promoting it through outreach to diabetes bloggers as well as tactical advertising, such as banners on diabetes sites, and to the patient community through third-party orgs. As of Monday it was the seventh-most-popular app in the free health and fitness section of Apple’s iTunes Store.

Sanofi-Aventis is using Twitter as a feedback channel for the app, since the iTunes Store allows users to post comments but doesn’t afford developers any means of responding.

The company launched a YouTube channel aimed at dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding insulin, dubbed GoInsulin, last February. GoInsulin has garnered more than 400,000 views and the use of online video has allowed the company to reach beyond its traditional audience – in particular, to younger males.

“Managing diabetes is relentless,” said Crowe, “the number of times of day you have to pay attention to this disease. So anything we can do to make the patient’s life one iota easier, we’re going to do it.”