This week, a new wearable device is going to change how we measure and manage diabetes.
The BMI (Body Mass Index) measurement instrument was created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to track changes in body fat levels, which can be used to help predict future diabetes and obesity.
“We can’t get diabetes if we don’t get fat, and that’s what we want to change,” says Andrew Smith, a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at MIT and the lead author of the new study, published in the Journal of Diabetes Engineering.
With the new device, Smith and his colleagues used an optical sensor to measure changes in the thickness of the skin.
That led to an estimate of how fat people had changed in the last 30 days, and the authors then calculated how much fat they needed to lose in order to achieve a healthy BMI.
In this case, that means losing about 1.5 kilograms of fat per month.
That’s equivalent to a BMI of 26.5.
It’s not just the new wearable that could help doctors predict future BMI levels, however.
Smith says the device could be useful in predicting the amount of insulin patients are going to need to take, as well as measuring how many calories they need to burn.
Because the device was built to measure only skin thickness, the researchers couldn’t measure insulin levels in the blood, but they could use a barometric pressure test.
Once they did that, the device predicted how much insulin would be needed to maintain a healthy, healthy BMI of 27.7.
This is important because it’s possible that people who are obese will have less insulin than those who are healthy, leading to an increase in insulin levels.
“It’s like a thermostat that measures the temperature of your home,” says Smith.
If the device can predict that insulin levels will need to be increased, doctors could start by taking insulin doses based on that prediction, rather than on their personal risk of diabetes.
If the new sensor is used by patients, they could also monitor their insulin levels and adjust their diet to avoid becoming diabetic.
“In the future, the sensors can be worn on the body or attached to an arm, so doctors could get a feel for insulin levels as they are being taken and adjust what they’re eating and exercising to help prevent diabetes,” Smith says.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done to make the BMI measurement instrument as accurate as possible, he adds.
“We have a long way to go in the development of this device, but it’s a promising step,” he says.
“It’s an important step in addressing the needs of people who have diabetes.”
Source: MIT News