World's First Glucose Sport Biosensor for Athletes

Abbott's Biosensor — based on FreeStyle Libre — is designed for use in athletes without diabetes.

Strategy and Strength|Sep.17, 2020

Abbott is taking its world-leading continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology to the next level — athletes without diabetes.

Our biowearable technology is CE marked and is the world’s first glucose sport biosensor designed for athletes.1

Here's how it works: Abbott’s biosensor continuously measures glucose levels of athletes, ages 16 and up, with a small round biosensor worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days. The user will automatically receive streaming glucose data, via Bluetooth® wireless technology, every minute and these data are designed to work with compatible mobile apps.* 

This over-the-counter product is based on Abbott's world-leading2 CGM technology FreeStyle Libre, which was originally developed for people living with diabetes.

But our biosensor goes a step further, showing the potential breadth of sensor-based technology beyond diabetes management.

While the market for high-tech diabetes devices, including CGMs and insulin pumps, is approximately $7 billion — the fastest growing medtech market over $1 billion3 — expanding the population that can benefit from CGMs beyond those with diabetes stands to substantially broaden the market for this technology.

"This is just the beginning,” said Jared Watkin, senior vice president of Abbott’s diabetes care business. “Our breakthrough sensing technology has the potential to go beyond glucose and provide a lens into what's happening in the human body that could provide meaningful insights into other conditions, treatments and ultimately improve health."

Why Glucose Matters When it Comes to Athletes

Your body stores glucose, ready to be burned the moment you start exercising, whether it's a long bike ride, a brisk jog or a refreshing swim.

When you're exercising, particularly for an extended period, your glucose will go up for a time.

"When someone is early in a workout — and they're exercising at high intensity — they'll actually see a rise in glucose. That's the body responding to the stress of the event," said Jim McCarter, medical affairs director for Abbott.

That's how it starts, but not how it ends.

"Later in exercise — and especially in endurance exercise — as glycogen stores are depleted, glucose will begin to lower. And that’s especially important in long-distance endurance events," McCarter said.

Understanding real-time glucose levels can help athletes know what to consume and when, which helps improve muscle recovery and athletic performance, Swedish research shows.4 And athletes who understand the impact of what they eat and drink will have a better chance of improving their performance, according to an American College of Sports Medicine study.

Putting these concepts to the test, cyclists from some of the top teams at the Tour de France, the world’s largest annual sporting event, wore our biosensor in training as part of an observational trial. This technology enabled the athletes to track their glucose data to help inform them when it may be time to refuel, as they prepared for the race.

"FreeStyle Libre changed the way millions of people manage their diabetes to get and stay healthier, and now we're bringing that same proven technology to empower athletes to help them reach their athletic performance goals," Watkin said.

Abbott's biosensor will be available in the coming weeks. It will initially be made available across eight European countries: Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

*Biosensor is designed to work with compatible partner mobile apps.


1The biosensor is the world's first continuous glucose biosensor specifically designed for athletes; data on file, Abbott.
2Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care. Data based on the number of users worldwide for the FreeStyle Libre system compared to the number of users for other leading personal use, sensor-based glucose monitoring systems.
3Raymond James Financial, Diabetes Deep-Dive: The Continued Evolution (and Acceptance) of New Diabetes Tech, February 2020.
4Olsson, J. 2016. Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences. Swedish Elite Swimmers Blood Glucose Levels During Recovery: A Descriptive Study Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems.

This article was updated on March 8, 2024.