Glucose Monitoring for Non-Diabetics: A Dangerous Trend

Blog, Written by Sophie Corbett

Continuous glucose monitors have become the latest wellness trend, but doctors are concerned that they could have significant negative impacts.

Blood sugar monitors are unnecessary for people without diabetes and could, in extreme cases, fuel eating disorders, leading doctors have warned.”

Let’s discuss the concerns.

In 2024, there has been a surge in the use of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) among individuals who don’t have diabetes. While these devices were initially designed to help people with Type 1 Diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, they are now being marketed to the general public as tools for optimising health and wellness. However, this trend is not without its risks, and it’s essential to understand the potential harm it could cause.

 

What is a Continuous Glucose Monitor?

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a small device that is worn on the body to track blood sugar levels throughout the day. It consists of a tiny sensor inserted under the skin, which measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid. The data collected by the sensor is transmitted to a receiver or smartphone app, providing real-time insights into blood sugar fluctuations.

These devices can be life saving to people who have type 1 diabetes or take insulin as it gives them the ability to respond quickly to changes in their blood glucose. If they didn’t respond they could risk becoming extremely unwell or even dying.

 

Why Are Continuous Glucose Monitors Being Advertised to the General Public?

The marketing of CGMs to the general public is fueled by the growing interest in health tracking and biohacking. Many individuals are drawn to the idea of monitoring their blood sugar levels to gain insights into how different foods and lifestyle choices affect their bodies. Additionally, some companies promote CGMs as tools for weight management, claiming that they can help users optimise their diet and exercise routines for better metabolic health. We don’t have current evidence to suggest that this is the case.

It is essentially a wellness trend, a hot trend in 2023 was the ‘glucose goddess method’. This was a sparkly new diet that pushed the idea that glucose spikes are bad for our health, despite this not being supported by the scientific evidence. I broke down the research in a blog.

With many people now scared of glucose spikes it opened up a demand for products allowing people to watch their blood glucose in real time. Furthering the potential for increased anxiety about blood glucose…

 

What Are the Possible Dangers?

While the use of CGMs by non-diabetics may seem harmless, it can actually pose several risks:

Anxiety Over Carbohydrates: Constantly monitoring blood sugar levels can lead to anxiety and obsession over food choices, particularly carbohydrates. Individuals may become overly restrictive with their diets, fearing that certain foods will cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Diet Restriction: The focus on maintaining stable blood sugar levels is completely unnecessary and may result in restrictive eating patterns and avoidance of certain food groups. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and negatively impact overall health and well-being. This is something I have seen personally with clients in my clinic.

Eating Disorders: Dieting and fear around food are two factors that increase the risk of disordered eating and eating disorders. For individuals with a history of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, the use of CGMs can exacerbate existing issues. Constantly monitoring blood sugar levels may reinforce unhealthy behaviors and distort one’s relationship with food.

Reduction in Available Devices for People Who Need Them: The increased demand for CGMs among non-diabetics could lead to shortages of these devices for individuals who rely on them to manage diabetes. This can have serious consequences for those who depend on CGMs to monitor their blood sugar levels and make informed decisions about insulin dosing.

 

It is normal for blood glucose to rise after eating, it is not inherently bad for us.

Summary

While continuous glucose monitors can be valuable tools for diabetic patients, their use by non-diabetics is unecessary and carries significant risks. From fostering anxiety over carbohydrates to exacerbating eating disorders. The trend of CGM usage among the general public warrants careful consideration.

If you think you have a health problem related to blood glucose or you want to learn more about blood glucose, having a glucose monitor is not a wise way to go about that. It is best to request tests from your doctor and speak to a registered dietitian about your eating habits.

 

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We are here to help

 

If you feel that this topic personally resonates with you, and you need some support in this area then we are here to help. We are a team of specialist dietitians in mental health and eating disorders. We would love to support you to be your best and healthiest version, and to meet your personal goals. Send us a message here. Or find out more about us here. 

 

Blog written by Sophie

 

Sophie is a Specialist Eating Disorder Dietitian passionate about delivering great quality care and advocating for her clients. Sheis naturally curious and driven for continued learning both within the profession and outside of it. Sophie founded Mental Health Dietitians in 2024 to be able to work in a way that is value-aligned and makes a difference to the individuals in her care, as well as the wider profession. She currently supports international clients 1-1 in her online clinic.

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