As diabetes becomes a bigger and bigger health problem in the U.S., the cost is becoming a big concern, too. The direct and indirect costs of diabetes are almost 50% above what they were just five years ago.
Estimates place the economic burden of diabetes in 2012 at more than $322 billion in excess medical expenses and lost productivity, or more than $1,000 for every American, according to a new study.
“These statistics underscore the importance of finding ways to reduce the burden of diabetes and prediabetes through better prevention and treatment,” Timothy Dall, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The need to identify persons with undiagnosed diabetes is even more important because untreated diabetes can lead to numerous costly health complications, such as heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems.
Yogurt can help accomplish this. A recent study by researchers at Harvard found that eating eating 12 ounces of yogurt a day resulted in an 18 percent reduction in the risk for Type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes that develops later in life and is usually the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
The findings are preliminary, but it is known that the probiotic bacteria in yogurt improves fat profiles and antioxidant status in patients with Type 2 diabetes and, according to the Harvard researchers, probiotic bacteria may also lower the risk of developing diabetes.
There are several reasons why the cost of diabetes has risen, according to the study. The number of aging boomers at risk for the disorder has mushroomed; doctors are also able to do more for patients with diabetes and so treatment costs are higher; and these new therapeutic options are expensive.
In addition to the aging population, obesity, which increases a person’s risk of diabetes, is epidemic in the U.S., Dall said. So even though there may be a few years’ lag, if obesity rates go up, so does the prevalence of diabetes.
An editorial that accompanies the current study, concludes that the findings suggest a need for intervention as early as possible, during the prediabetes stage. “We believe that identifying prediabetes is worthwhile from both a clinical and a public health standpoint,” the authors said.
The need to identify persons with undiagnosed diabetes is even more important, the editorial says, because untreated diabetes can lead to numerous costly health complications, such as heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems.
“The crisis is worsening,” the editorial concludes. “The time to act is now. These data clearly should signal a call for action.”