Physician viewpoint: Blood-sugar tracking to be next big wearables trend by 2025

Continuous glucose monitoring will be widespread among diabetics by 2025 — and even those without the condition will start tapping into the trend, predicts Aaron Neinstein, MD, director of clinical informatics at the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation, in an op-ed for CNBC.

Dr. Neinstein notes that blood-sugar monitoring technology has come a long way from the days of pricking fingers every few hours. Patient with diabetes, he added, are beginning to adapt to these new continuous glucose monitoring technologies, too — a trend he says will increase in the coming years.

"Continuous glucose monitoring use has increased in Americans with Type 1 diabetes, from 6 percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2018. I expect these technologies to continue to get even better — they will get smaller, more accurate and even smarter as better algorithms are developed and collaborations [form] between the device companies and tech companies like Alphabet or Apple," Dr. Neinstein writes.

Dr. Neinstein's bold prediction? People with Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetics and even those without the condition will start to adopt these technologies.

"There is no proven benefit to everyone using a continuous blood-sugar tracker all the time — but, I think we will soon discover that many people can benefit from using it at least for a short period," Dr. Neinstein writes, adding that he has personally used one of these devices despite not having diabetes.

"I decided to wear the device … because I have a history of borderline high cholesterol. Between my cholesterol levels and these data, I decided that my metabolism and insulin resistance levels were likely putting me at higher risk for heart disease, so I immediately made substantial changes in my diet," he writes, adding that "people can quickly gain valuable insights on the health impacts of lifestyle choices, including food, stress levels, sleep amounts and activity levels" from continuous glucose-monitoring devices.

Dr. Neinstein acknowledges that scientists will need to conduct more research into the benefits of non-diabetics monitoring their blood sugar levels before this trend becomes widespread. He also notes that the prices of such devices must also fall for this trend to take hold.

"The next five years will be an incredible time, as fingersticks disappear from diabetes, prices fall and the increasing ubiquity of blood-sugar tracking opens new opportunities to understand, avoid or treat disease," Dr. Neinstein concludes.

Click here to access the complete op-ed.

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