More than 100 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the latest news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Furthermore, diabetes racks up a behemoth $245.5 billion in healthcare costs, and costs American employers $20.4 billion thanks to 57 million unplanned, missed workdays this year, according to the latest Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which utilizes well-being metrics.
Gallup asked respondents to self-report about their height and weight. Obesity has risen about 3 percentage points since the first year of the Well-Being Index, from 2008 to 2016. The rate was 25.5% in 2008 and is now 28.2%, according to Dan Witters, research director for the index. For every three units that obesity rises, diabetes rises about one unit, he says.
"When obesity rates rise, diabetes numbers climb with it," Witters tells Medical Economics.
The survey looked at working adults, aged mid-20s through mid-60s. "People who are obese in that age group are four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes," he says. Rates are even higher within the African-American, Hispanic and middle-aged demographics.
It's easy to think that everyone who's overweight knows what to do: eat better and get more exercise, à la "calories in, calories out." One can also assume that people with diabetes know that they must be very vigilant about controlling their blood sugar. But it's not that easy.
"If you look at a newly-diagnosed diabetes patient, only about 6.8% of those individuals actually receive education in the first year of diagnosis," says Sheila Holcomb, RD, LD, CDE and vice president for health and wellness engagement platform provider Sharecare Diabetes Solution.
"It would follow that in their first year of diagnosis, a patient would learn how to eat healthy and how to take medications—how to be engaged in their diabetes management," she says.
Physicians can play a pivotal role in initiating and continuing meaningful conversations with patients, says Witters, therefore encouraging all-important patient compliance. Many people find it intimidating and even difficult to accept a chronic condition and to contemplate managing it for the long term.