Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States that affects millions of Americans. As you read this, you may remember a friend, family member or colleague who has diabetes. Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the way the body uses blood sugar, which can cause serious health problems.
In 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes — that’s over 9% of the population. Prediabetes, which is when a person is at high-risk for developing type 2 diabetes due to high blood glucose levels, affects 86 million Americans over the age of 20. Compare this to 79 million people in 2010 and you can see how the growth in these figures is staggering.
How does diabetes affect business?
Given the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. today and rising healthcare costs, it can be a costly disease to manage on the individual and the organizational level. Each year, diabetes treatments cost nearly $245 billion. Of that total, $176 billion is spent on direct medical costs and the remaining $69 billion goes toward disability payments, lost time from work and premature death.
People with diabetes typically incur $13,700 per year in medical expenditures, of which $7,900 is attributed to the disease. They have nearly 2.3 times higher medical expenditures than people without diabetes. Not only is diabetes costly in terms of medical expenses, but other costs of diabetes include:
- “Increased absenteeism ($5 billion),
- Reduced productivity while at work ($20.8 billion) for the employed population,
- Reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.7 billion),
- Inability to work as a result of disease-related disability ($21.6 billion),
- Lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($18.5 billion)”
As doctors and scientists closely link the growing rate of obesity in the U.S. to type-2 diabetes, it becomes clear that the biggest tragedy is that it is largely preventable. Approximately 9 in 10 cases could be avoided through weight control, more exercise, eating healthier and not smoking.
What role does a company have in preventing diabetes?
Employers are empowered to make a difference in the diabetes epidemic thanks to Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP). DPP implemented in the workplace are an effective way to improve the health of employees with prediabetes while also helping to manage healthcare costs overall.
A DPP study published in Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology showed incredible results when subjects implemented lifestyle changes such as weight reduction, eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, moderate physical activity as well as education. The study’s results were:
- Diabetes incidence was reduced by 58%
- Over 10 years, DPP incidence was reduced by 34%
Another study, published by The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, showed the economic impact of lifestyle changes compared to metformin, which is an oral diabetes medicine. Over 10 years, the cumulative costs for lifestyle changes were cost-effective when compared to placebo, demonstrating that “investment in lifestyle and metformin interventions for diabetes prevention in high-risk adults provides good value for the money spent.”
What a DPP is like
At Total Well-Being, we create custom well-being solutions for companies of all sizes. We utilize technology, support and all the tools you need to drive a successful program. Bringing a DPP to employers and their workforce makes it easier for people with prediabetes to participate in an evidence-based, affordable and high-quality lifestyle change program to reduce their risk of type-2 diabetes and improve their overall health. Our DPP focus on:
- Diabetes prevention and management education
- Heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol management
- Tobacco use cessation
- Weight and stress management
A way that we ensure success is with Total Well-Being Strive, which is an online tool that helps users track their health and well-being goals. Total Well-Being also offers unlimited lifestyle coaching for participants that want the peer connection and inspiration to keep working towards their personal well-being goals.
Our clients save between 9 to 15% on healthcare costs despite healthcare rates rising 6 to 9% on average. The DPP curriculum holds immense potential as a valuable investment in workplace health and wellness.
As employers, it is our responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment for our employees. The longevity of our company and our staff rely on the time and effort we take to ensure that health and well-being are our first priority. We know that a comprehensive well-being strategy can create a culture of thriving employees. A key factor in this strategy is preventing diabetes, whenever possible, so that everyone can lead productive, healthy lives. Contact us today to talk about implementing a Diabetes Prevention Program in your workplace.