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Type 2 diabetes a national security issue

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Public health expert says type 2 diabetes is a "national security issue"

David B. Nash, MD, MBA, Dean, Jefferson School of Population Health (Philadelphia, PA) Editor-in-Chief of the journal Population and Health Management said in a press release that type 2 diabetes is a "national security issue. His statement is based on predictions that by the year 2025, diabetes will affect 53.1 million Americans unless society as a whole makes lifestyle changes. He says the disease affects every aspect of America’s well-being.

Public awareness, lifestyle changes are keys to curbing diabetes

But the good news is that with public awareness, diabetes can be prevented and treated effectively.

When the disease is recognized early and treated properly, lives can be saved and complications thwarted, but researchers say it’s going to take “significant lifestyle changes” from society as a whole to reduce the prevalence of diabetes.

The study authors write: “Clearly, we need a more effective health delivery system with easy access to screening, proactive prevention, and coordinated early management of developing chronic conditions. But these efforts will not reduce the pending “epidemics” of obesity and diabetes unless society also changes its values and structures to make healthy living an easy and natural part of our lives.”

Diabetes diagnosed at younger ages

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The researchers point out the potential life-long disability from type 2 diabetes, which is being diagnosed in younger populations from rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol that leads to complications of heart disease and kidney and eye disease. Millions will live with the disease for decades because of earlier diagnosis.

The cost of diabetes is expected to total $514 billion by the year 2025. The researchers have also broken down the costs for each state and several metropolitan areas. The diabetes forecasts can be viewed here and includes subgroups of populations that are impacted more severely.

The analysis is useful for policy makers who can review the data to develop special programs that target groups at highest risk. The authors also suggest the data can be used for budgeting for Medicaid funding. Decreasing the ‘national security risk’ of type 2 diabetes can also be facilitated by employers through wellness programs.

The authors concluded, “Reversing this ‘epidemic’ will require major lifestyle changes and remaking our health care delivery system into one focused on proactive prevention and continuous access to coordinated, evidence-based management of chronic diseases.” The predictive model shows type 2 diabetes rates will increase by 64% from 2010 to 2025 without intervention and public awareness of the burden of the disease, posing a "national security issue".

Population Health Management
Creating Public Awareness: State 2025 Diabetes Forecasts

William R. Rowley and Clement Bezold. Population Health Management: doi:10.1089/pop.2011.0053.
May 15, 2012

Updated 11/2/2016