Diabetes and Healthcare Costs
According to the American Diabetes Association, 8.6% of the U.S. population has diabetes and 79 million people are pre-diabetic. If the rates of this illness continue to rise at it’s current rate, by 2050 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes. Diabetes currently costs around $174 billion yearly. In other words, $1 in every $5 spent on healthcare is related to diabetes treatment.
Diabetes is an illness related to the inability to absorb sugar from food properly. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into simple sugar which are used for energy by our bodies. Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin, a signaling hormone which tells the cells that sugar is available in the blood stream. For those with Type 2 diabetes, the cells have stopped responding to insulin, so sugar is unable to enter the body’s cells. High blood sugar acts like a razor blade on the small blood vessels throughout the whole body, leading to permanent damage to these vessels and diabetic related complications. Diabetics have a 2.3 times greater medical expenditures than non-diabetics, due to more doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and prescription drug use. Diabetics are also at high risk for complications like blindness, pneumonia, heart failure, kidney failure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ninety-five percent of diabetics are Type 2, a disease which is largely preventable and treatable with appropriate diet, exercise, and nutrient supplementation. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has demonstrated that lifestyle interventions can delay or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes, as many experts believe. The DPP demonstrated that an intensive lifestyle intervention could reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 58% in 3 years. Via an intensive lifestyle intervention (exercise and diet instruction) the DPP was able to reduce healthcare-related costs in people with pre-diabetes by $432 in just one year. The cost of the lifestyle intervention was offset by the total savings.
In summary, intensive lifestyle interventions are effective in reducing costs and complications associated with diabetes and can be implemented in a variety of healthcare settings in order to reduce the incidence of diabetes.