While Buddhism philosopher Prince Gautama Siddharta’s words may miss the mark in some cases of unpreventable conditions and disease, his words ring true in the case of obesity, diabetes and other comorbidities.
A study this week found that in the past 15 years, obesity prevalence in the U.S. has amplified by almost 90 percent and nearly doubled the loss of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The researchers found that obesity-related QALYs lost had a direct link to U.S. adults who reported having little or no physical activity.
Because the rate of obese patients continues to rise, comorbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes and others, are becoming more and more prevalent.
With more than 220 million people worldwide diagnosed with diabetes and 1.1 million deaths associated with the condition in 2005, more emphasis is being placed on curbing not only the comorbidity, but its costs.
Additionally this week, an NHS report showed that the swell of U.K. patients diagnosed with diabetes has directly resulted in a 40 percent rise in costs since 2006—soaking up £650 million ($953 million U.S.).
This rise also led to £299.2 million ($389.8 million U.S.) in costs, which were linked to the 5.7 million insulin items prescribed to help diabetics manage their disease. Costs associated with antidiabetic drug administration for these patients reached almost £200 million ($264.3 million U.S.).
Moreover, an editorial published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin this week said that Novo Nordisk’s decision to pull diabetes drug Mixtard 30 off the U.K. shelves could cost England £9 million ($11.8 million U.S.) and force diabetics to purchase more expensive forms of insulin.
While diabetes has turned into an epidemic that incurs lofty annual costs, it also increases a patients risk for heart attack and stroke by nearly double.
While new technologies—like iPhone applications that can send adolescent diabetics reminders about treatment—have the possibility of providing patients with better management strategies to reach optimal glucose control, preventive measures and lifestyle changes must be employed.
Initiatives like Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020 that set goals to increase life expectancy and quality of life are useful, but have not been met. Like Siddharta wrote, patients can sometimes curb their risk of a future event or comorbidity, but a bigger push from national, state and local entities can help raise awareness of preventive measures, ultimately averting disease, and trimming costs.
On these topics, or others, please feel free to contact me.