The number of Americans with diabetes will nearly double in the next 25 years, and the costs of treating them will triple, according to a new report.
The figures, in a University of Chicago report released Friday, add fuel to the congressional debate regarding reining in the cost of health care.
By 2034, 44.1 million Americans will be living with diabetes -- nearly twice the current number of 23.7 million, according to the report, published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care. About 90 percent of those with diabetes have type 2, a version of the condition that develops over time.
Accounting for inflation, the direct medical cost of treating them will rise from $113 ...view middle of the document...
The estimates also don't factor in immigration, or the rising population of ethnic minorities. Latinos and African-Americans suffer diabetes at higher rates than the U.S. population as a whole.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which a person loses the ability to break down glucose in the blood and turn food into energy. The condition often develops when people are young.
In type 2 diabetes, the condition develops over time. The process is complex, but aside from ethnic background, risk factors include having a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. The most common risk factor is simply being overweight.
Even modest weight loss will reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More ambitious lifestyle changes, such as diet, regular exercise and assistance through counseling lowered the risk of diabetes by 58 percent, even without medication, in a major federally funded study.
The model used by Huang and his colleagues assumes that the prevalence of diabetes in each age group will stay constant, but that the number of cases will grow as the population gets older. For the Medicare-eligible population alone, the paper predicts the diabetes caseload will rise from 8.2 million people to 14.6 million, and that the total annual cost of treatment will go from $45 billion to $171 billion.
To estimate cost, the researchers assumed that the standard progression of the disease, and mix of therapies used to treat it, will remain constant. According to a 2005 federal report, nearly three in four adults with diabetes uses oral medication to control the disease. About one in four takes insulin.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, according to the American Diabetes Association, and nerve damage and damaged blood vessels are also common. About 15 percent of diabetics require...