Google+ Facebook Twitter Twitter

The big question: Selling continuous glucose monitors to the healthy

Biotech companies have started marketing continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to people without diabetes. It is claimed that maintaining a consistent blood sugar level can enhance health and help with weight loss. However, there are concerns that as opposed to helping people maintain better health, the data could be misunderstood and it may lead to an increase in the worried well.

Nicky Hollowood

nicky hollowood - CREDIT-Supplied

POCT Manager

Integrated Pathology Solutions LLP

The concern with CGMs being used by people who don’t have diabetes depends on the clinical/lifestyle decisions that are made in response to the results, and by whom. I believe there is value in them being marketed to support specific lifestyle needs, such as marathon training, but they need to be incorporated into a full care package that gives evidence-based advice. It was inevitable that CGMs would follow the marketing concept of the “fitbit”, as there is more profit to be made from having this device in the mainstream, as opposed to it being disease specific, but I would hope that manufacturers assume an ethical responsibility to ensuring they are marketed responsibility and safely.

robyn wilson - CREDIT Supplied
Robyn Wilson



Whilst I appreciate that the intention behind marketing CGMs for healthy people is meant to empower us to take better care of our health and wellbeing, there is a distinct lack of education around what the results mean. The negative impacts, I feel, far outweigh the positive with the possibility of a rise in eating disorders and avoidance of certain food groups in a bid to maintain a glucose level in a range that is deemed “optimal”. What is missing from this is the awareness that a rise in blood glucose is a perfectly normal and healthy response to eating and the body’s ability to return the blood glucose level to a normal range after eating is a better indicator of health as this is an expected biological response.

Tony Cambridge

tony cambridge CREDIT_Supplied

Lead Biomedical Scientist, Pathology Management, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

Traditionally, any test undertaken must be clinically indicated, and only performed if the result is likely to change the management of the patient. However, the public is now more curious and many are taking better control of their health, being proactive in preventing ill health from developing, or identifying concerns at the earliest opportunity. The expansion of wearable technology and indwelling sensors has paved the way and made diagnostics more accessible and desirable. If used to support prevention, or early identification of pathological disease, then it may be a good thing.

The online response

We put the question to IBMS followers on social media.

Here’s what they said…

Charlotte Mustoe

Long term it is a good thing, so long as the cost is not prohibitive and the information supporting its use is correct. Empowering people to take an interest and a sense of control over their health has to be a good thing. This is not about ill health and management of the sick. This is preventative and supportive. The biggest issue is that the market is not well governed at the moment.

Amiee Allen

There are positives and negatives. It would encourage individuals to take autonomy and responsibility for their own health, potentially encouraging better lifestyle choices through food choices and exercise. However, there is risk of over-reliance on CGM devices, such as fixation with the generated results - this may negatively impact mental, and physical, wellbeing.

Joannis Vamvakopoulos

Whether direct-to-consumer advertising and sale of CGM tech is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. If production capacity is restricted and we get a repeat of the situation with obesity drugs, then it’ll be bad for NHS patients. If regulatory standards fail, then the market could be flooded with CGMs that are not just unhelpful, but misleading. That said, given free flow of information, the market has a way of shaking out poor products and businesses.


Related Articles