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Diabetes lifetime costs - as expensive as a house?

A recent report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine breaks down the costs of living with type 2 diabetes over the course of a lifetime. The dollar amount is eye-opening, and so are the differences in costs between men and women.

To calculate the costs of living with type 2 diabetes on an individual basis, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Research Triangle International created a simulation model that could compile the costs of both treating the condition and managing its complications. This is as opposed to only focusing on the overall economic burden of treating type 2 diabetes in a year.

The findings reveal that on average, a person with type 2 diabetes spends more than $85,000 over the course of their lifetime on treating the disease and managing complications.

Additionally, the point at which a person is diagnosed with the disease can affect how much they spend during their lifetime. For example, a man diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he is between 25 and 44 will spend $124,700.

But women from the same age range will pay over $5,000 more, at $130,800 during their lifetime. Researchers note that costs go down the later in life a person is diagnosed with the condition.

The costs include not only those directly related to treating diabetes, but also to treating complications like kidney disease, nerve and eye damage, heart disease, amputations and stroke.

The amount of money spent each year on treating diabetes has significantly risen recently. Robert Ratner from the American Diabetes Association says that direct medical costs for treating diabetes totaled $176 billion in 2012.

"This is up 40% in 5 years," he says.

On the more positive side, he notes that complications from diabetes have decreased due to better blood sugar level control. In fact, he points to a 50% decrease in amputations and a 35% decrease in dialysis or transplantation for kidney disease in the past 12 years.

However, Ratner says that the benefits of these positive outcomes are overshadowed by the number of new cases of the disease each year.

Ratner says:

"When you look at the annual costs, you can clearly see this is an untenable rate of growth."

Quite a few studies have recently suggested ways to decrease the incidence of the disease. For example, some recommend that "catch-up" sleep could prevent type 2 diabetes, while other recommend taking short walks to lower risk of the disease.

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