An article appeared in The Conversation last week about how the food industry gets us to buy and eat ‘nutritionally worthless’ foods and drinks. The thing I found most interesting about the piece was when the authors were talking about number of choices we have today when we take a walk down a supermarket aisle as compared with in the 1960s.

Today, supermarkets stock about 30,000 items. That’s a lot of breakfast cereal or yogurt from which to choose. By comparison, anyone doing a weekly shop in the 1960s had between 600 and 800 items on the shelves.

One of the things we complain about in Australia is that we have limited choice when it comes to diabetes devices and management options. This is true when we compare what is available here with the options of those in the USA and Europe. I have seen and held and played with all sorts of devices that I would love to be able to use, but they are not available on our fair shores – and not likely to be launched here either. ‘Market is too small’ is the reason given all the time.

I like choice and as a consumer advocate, I am the first to say that all the options for management of our diabetes should be before us before we make a decision as to what we will use. It frustrates me that I cannot choose to use a T-Slim pump or the OmniPod system.

I’m not sure exactly how many BGL meters are available in Australia, but I know it’s certainly not as many as at any Walmart I’ve popped into when travelling in the US. I’m always astounded at the ‘diabetes aisle’ in these stores.

Do we want that sort of choice when it comes to diabetes management tools? I’m not sure. I guess I like the idea of being able to choose the device best-suited to me. Do I think that we need a choice of two hundred thousand (slight exaggeration) BGL meters that do pretty much the same thing? Maybe not.  I actually do think that we have a good selection here from which to choose and don’t really feel we’re missing out.

But it’s a different matter with pumps. There are not really that many pumps on the market to begin with. We have a choice of only four or five here.  We don’t have the option of a tubeless pump, which is definitely a point of difference, nor a touch screen pump.

Some may say we shouldn’t complain – that a pump is an insulin delivery device and as long as it does that, everything else is just fancy-pants add-ons that mean nothing.

But surely that same argument can be applied to everything. We don’t need choice in the cars we drive – a car gets us from point A to B – leather seats and auto windscreen wipers are superfluous. Or a phone is a device to call people and chat – cameras, calculators and other applications are unnecessary and bonus extras.

We wouldn’t accept that. We SHOULDN’T accept that.

For me, when it is time to consider a new pump or CGM or BGL meter, the things that are the most important are safety and accuracy. But I do want to be able to line up all the options, look at their particular features and then make an informed decision. It’s my right to choose.

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