Diabetes Prevalence Expected to Double in Next 25 Years

Alexandria,
November 27, 2009

By 2034, the number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double and diabetes spending will nearly triple to $336 billion, even if the prevalence of obesity in this country remains stable, according to a study published in the November issue of Diabetes Care.

A team of researchers led by the University of Chicago constructed a model of diabetes costs accounting for trends in risk factors (such as obesity), the natural history of the disease and the effects of treatments, all of which helped to improve upon forecasts previously used by government budget analysts, who had not previously taken such factors into account. The study was done to help forecast the impact of alternative policy scenarios as Congress debates changes in the health care system, particularly to Medicare.

The study concluded that, over the next 25 years, the number of Americans with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes would soar from 23.7 million to 44.1 million – nearly doubling. During the same period, annual spending related to diabetes would climb from $113 billion to $336 billion (in 2007 dollars). For those who would be covered by Medicare during this time period, prevalence would rise from 8.2 million Americans to 14.6 million, and associated spending would jump from $45 billion to $171 billion.

The analysis in this model differs from previous projection models by taking into consideration constant changes in the diabetes population over time, such as the aging of the baby boomer generation and recent increase in the incidence of obesity rates in the U.S.; and the natural progression of the disease, such as the development of complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, circulatory and nervous systems.

"We built this model to improve the budgetary and health outcome information available to federal policymakers," the researchers explained. "The model provides a rigorous assessment of the future burden of diabetes that accounts for the natural history of the disease and recent advances in treatment."

"Without significant changes in public or private strategies, this population and cost growth are expected to add a significant strain to an overburdened health care system," the researchers concluded.

To reach lead researcher Dr. Elbert S. Huang, at the University of Chicago, email ehuang@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu. Interview requests can be made through Susan Bro (615-440-2799 or susan@mediamindsite.com) or Cathleen Savage (301-634-9411 Savage-Cathleen@norc.org).

Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, is the leading peer-reviewed journal of clinical research into one of the nation’s leading causes of death by disease.  Diabetes also is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, as well as the leading cause of adult blindness, kidney failure, and non-traumatic amputations.

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.