Diabetes cases to double, costs to triple in next 25 years
Diabetes is deadly and costly. And the number of people with the disease and the cost to treat them is only expected to soar in the coming years, according to a new study.
In the next 25 years, the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to double from nearly 24 million in 2009 to 44 million in 2034 and the cost of treating the disease will triple from $113 billion to $336 billion, says a new report in the journal Diabetes Care.
The rise in diabetes cases will take a huge toll on the already strained Medicare system. Medicare spending on diabetes is expected to rise from $45 billion to $171 billion, the report estimated.
"If we don't change our diet and exercise habits or find new, more effective and less expensive ways to prevent and treat diabetes, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population," said the study's lead author Dr. Elbert Huang, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.
Much of the increase will be driven by aging baby boomers, who are nearing the age where they are at higher risk for developing the disease. While not all types of diabetes are preventable, type 2 diabetes -- which accounts for 90-95 percent of all cases -- is linked to obesity.
Still -- and this is fascinating - researchers expect the number of diabetes cases to soar, even if obesity rates remain don't increase.
The figures mirror projections published elsewhere and hope to sound the alarm on the huge impact of the disease. The CDC estimates that if current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes over their lifetime.
Not only is diabetes dangerous -- it's the sixth leading cause of death in the nation -- it is costly. The journal Health Affairs highlights the huge expense: Chronic diseases in general account for three-quarters of health care spending and nine chronic diseases -- diabetes included -- account for the 60 percent rise in Medicare costs.
Baltimore Sun photo