Home Blood Sugar Management Are you planning to buy a smartwatch that claims to be able to measure blood sugar levels? Why you should think again

Are you planning to buy a smartwatch that claims to be able to measure blood sugar levels? Why you should think again

by Apoorva Misra
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Last month, the U.S. health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, warned the public and doctors against using smart watches and smart rings that claim to measure blood sugar levels without puncturing the skin.

The warning has also been extended to Indian consumers and healthcare providers, given the large availability of similar smartwatches and devices on online platforms such as Amazon, Meesho and Flipkart.

Despite the variety of local options in these markets, so far no non-invasive technology for blood glucose monitoring has been approved by health regulatory authorities around the world. Apple Watch also does not offer blood sugar monitoring functionality.

Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO of GOQii, a preventive health care company that sells wearable devices, says traditional methods that involve penetrating or puncturing the skin remain more reliable for monitoring blood sugar levels. is.

“There are many devices on the market that claim to use heart rate data and algorithms to measure blood sugar levels, but these technologies are often inaccurate, with error rates that can exceed 50 percent.” he said.

According to global research firm Counterpoint, India’s smartwatch shipments increased by 50% year-on-year in 2023, marking a significant growth. In 2023, more than 125 smartwatch brands have entered the market. In fact, 54% of the market was below the retail price range of Rs 2,000.

Most big brands in the smartwatch space, such as Samsung, Noise, Fire Boltt, and boAt, do not offer blood sugar monitoring features, but a simple Google search or browsing online marketplaces will show you that they claim to offer such features. You’ll find many local businesses that do.

“Platforms like Amazon and Flipkart are flooded with these devices, mainly from China, that claim to accurately assess various health parameters. However, their accuracy is often questionable, and medical recommendations based on the data are often questionable. There can be risks when making such decisions,” Gondal said.

A strict “no no” from the doctor

Leading endocrinologists told News18 that they discourage patients from wearing such tracking devices unless they are continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGMS). These devices are small sensors that can be inserted under the skin, usually in the abdomen or arm area.

According to Dr. Ambrish Mittal, Chairman and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Max Healthcare, “Non-puncture devices do not guarantee accuracy and such devices are not approved by top regulatory authorities. ”

“Such devices can be worn by people who wear these watches to make a style statement, but they are not accurate enough to be worn by diabetics,” he said, adding that they do not provide accurate blood sugar readings. The trend could help doctors adjust doses of drugs and insulin, he added.

“While non-invasive glucose monitoring offers great hope for the future, it should be avoided as a monitoring method at this time. Reliance on blood glucose readings obtained from such devices can lead to serious errors in treatment. There is a possibility.”

Mr. Anup Misra, Director, Fortis C-DOC Diabetes and Allied Sciences Hospital, echoed similar sentiments. “Nearly all of my patients use CGMS devices rather than smartwatches to continuously monitor their blood sugar levels. I do not recommend the use of such smartwatches.”

Doctors are advising patients to be patient until technology is developed to address the problem of frequent finger pricks and the discomfort associated with wearing continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGMS).

“Although clocks and devices used to non-invasively monitor sugar are in practical use, the accuracy of the tests remains questionable. , we have to wait for the necessary approvals,” said Atul Gogia, senior consultant in internal medicine at New Delhi-based Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

US FDA warning

In February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers, patients, caregivers, and health care workers about the risks associated with using smart watches and smart rings that claim to measure blood sugar levels without puncturing the skin. warned about.

“These devices are different from smartwatch applications that display data from FDA-cleared blood glucose measurement devices that penetrate the skin, such as continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGMs).”

The FDA has clarified that it does not approve, authorize, or approve any smart watch or smart ring designed to independently measure or estimate blood sugar levels. “Do not purchase or use smart watches or smart rings that claim to measure blood sugar levels. These devices may be sold through online marketplaces or directly from sellers.” .

The FDA also asked health care providers to talk to patients about the risks of using unapproved blood glucose monitoring devices.

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