Friday, October 2, 2009

Changing the Status Quo . . . Taking Control . . . and “Diabesity?”

We all agree health care costs are out of control. Many also agree, so is health care itself. But health—that’s another story. To greater and lesser degrees, we do have control over our own health. This brings us to what we are calling: Diabesity. And this is only one example of a mostly preventable chronic illness.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease which, through its complications, has a serious impact on the quality of life of individuals and their families through premature illness and death. Diabetes is closely related to obesity and overweight which now affects more than 65 percent of our population, meaning it has a major effect on both individual and national productivity. It is also largely preventable.

Population Health Management points out that twenty-four million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, at a cost to our nation of an estimated $218 billion. About 25 percent of Americans with diabetes aren’t even aware they have the disease. In fact, undiagnosed diabetes now costs us $18 billion each year. As for pre-diabetes (precursor to type 2 diabetes), the numbers are also staggering: Pre-diabetes affects an estimated 57 million Americans and costs our nation more than $25 billion a year in increased medical costs.

  • Each day in the United States, there are 4,100 new diabetes cases and 810 deaths from the disease. Also every day, about 230 diabetes patients suffer amputations, 120 suffer kidney failure and 55 go blind. (Dr. Robert E. Ratner of the MedStar Research Institute in Washington)
  • More than 80% of people with diabetes are overweight or obese. (CDC)
  • Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. (CDC)
  • The incidence of diabetes has increased by 6 percent annually for the past decade. (American Diabetes Association)
  • Annually, an employee with diabetes will cost $13, 243 on average, while an employee without diabetes costs only $2,560 on average. (Diabetes America)
  • A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight. (CDC)
  • Among the controllable risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and physical inactivity. (NIDDK)

So, here’s the real rub. We’re not picking on people with diabetes—we’re talking about actions we can all take to control health care costs and our own health—and avoiding type 2 diabetes is a great place to start. Type 2 diabetes can be largely prevented by losing weight through improved nutritional choices, and increased physical activity. As for prevention spending—A study by the National Changing Diabetes® Program found the federal government spent nearly $80 billion more on those with diabetes than those without the disease, and only $4 billion of that was spent on prevention and health promotion.

This is a good example of when maintaining the status quo is not a good thing. It’s also a good example of what a really big change we can make—all by ourselves—no government, no policy intervention, no lobbyists—just each one of us. Are you with us?

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