A Rainy Forecast for Diabetes

Diabetes projected to grow 64 percent between 2010 and 2025

(RxWiki News) Diabetes is one of the most serious health issues in the United States. Current trends suggest that the medical and social costs of diabetes will be huge in just 10 years. Healthy choices can change this trend.

The rate of diabetes is projected to grow by 64 percent in the next 10 to 15 years. This means that 53.1 million Americans may be living with diabetes by 2025.

"Exercise and eat healthy to prevent diabetes."

William R. Rowley, MD, and Clement Bezold, PhD, of the Institute for Alternative Futures, set out to strengthen public awareness about the impact of diabetes on different regions in the United States. Their study not only forecasts the future of diabetes in each state, but also measures how certain policies and lifestyle changes can lower the burden of diabetes.

Dr. Rowley and Dr. Bezold found that the yearly medical and societal costs of diabetes may increase as much as 72 percent between 2010 and 2025, reaching an annual cost of $514 billion.

While the results show that all states are dealing with a large diabetes problem, Mississippi is expected to have the highest rate of diabetes by 2025.

Despite the dismal projections of this study, there are ways to improve the diabetes problem. For example, research has shown that changes to diet and exercise that lead to a 5 to 10 percent loss of body weight can prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes 58 percent of the time.

"If our health care system were able to persuade 50 percent of Americans with prediabetes every year to seriously change their lifestyles for the rest of their lives, the result could be about 4.7 million fewer cases of diabetes in 2025," the authors write.

Such a reduction could save about $300 billion.

"Yet even if this happened, there would still be 48.4 million Americans living with diabetes," they write. "These sobering numbers suggest that it would take dramatic lifestyle changes on the part of all of society to prevent prediabetes in the first place in order to produce a dramatic decline by 2025."

One realistic conclusion of this study, according to the authors, is that diabetes will continue to be a huge problem in America for the foreseeable future.

This study is an important resource for doctors, policymakers and businesses. The results provide a better understanding of the the diabetes "epidemic" and how it impacts all Americans.

Creating awareness is the first step toward creating strategies to deal with the specific diabetes challenges facing each community.

The study shows that employers can benefit from keeping their workers healthy. The results also suggest that doctors and community leaders need to work on strategies targeted toward the particular problems of minority groups hit hard by diabetes.

The authors hope that easy access to their findings will help encourage "the changes needed in health care and society to avert the serious epidemic of diabetes in America."

The results of this study and the state- and region-specific diabetes forecasts are published in Population Health Management, a journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 

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Review Date: 
May 21, 2012