However, underestimating the cost of Diabetes to American lives and businesses would be unwise.
More than one in ten Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020. This number equals just over 34 million people currently living in the United States.
It is a marked increase from 11 million people in 2000. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of diabetes has risen worldwide. However, the organization saw the most rapid rises in low- and middle-income countries. As a high-income country, the United States is an exception.
This continued rise in diabetes cases is especially concerning for employers across the country. The CDC estimates that diabetes care accounts for $327 billion in direct medical costs. Employers lose an additional $90 billion in unplanned sick days and reduced productivity. With an economy already reeling from the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, employers must limit their exposure.
Diabetes is a chronic illness that limits a person’s ability to transport sugar, or glucose, to the body’s cells where it is effectively transformed into fuel. The hormone insulin is responsible for this process.
In someone suffering from diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin (type 1) or the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (type 2). Whilst type 1 diabetes is mostly seen in children or young adults and can come on suddenly, type 2 diabetes is related to unhealthy lifestyles.
The consequences of diabetes are far-reaching. The illness is a major cause of or contributor to heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and lower limb amputation.
Type 2 diabetes is linked to an unhealthy diet, a lifestyle lacking in exercise, and genetic predisposition.
Whilst people are at higher risk for diabetes if their parents or family members have been diagnosed with diabetes, lifestyle has a major influence.
Obesity and severe obesity have increased in the United States over the past decades. Diabetes cases have increased at the same time. It is safe to say that being overweight is a major contributor to developing diabetes.
Americans’ daily diets are behind the increase in obesity. The cause is not simply related to eating more – it is connected to food choices. The availability of processed and packaged foods has made it harder to understand exactly what we are eating. At the same time, fizzy drinks and high-sugar foods are growing in popularity. These can lead to weight gain but also cause chronic inflammation, another potential contributor to diabetes.
A low level of physical activity compounds the problem. This has been especially problematic over the past year and a half, as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have limited outdoor activities.
Being physically active is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity prompts the body to use up glucose as fuel. In addition, the body becomes more efficient at using insulin to transport and break down blood sugar.
Other risk factors include aging, and people are more likely to develop diabetes as they get older.
Preventing type 2 diabetes is about lifestyle changes and early recognition of the risk. Doctors now recognize prediabetes as a related illness. Prediabetes means that a person’s blood sugar levels are high but have not yet reached the levels of type 2 diabetes.
At that stage, it is still possible to reverse the illness with blood sugar levels returning to a normal range. Lifestyle changes are the key to the prevention and reversal of prediabetes. Adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly can have a major impact.
Exercise does not need to be excessive. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. A combination of both spread out over the week also works well.
A healthy diet is just as important. Depending on the individual, changes may not need to be drastic. Choosing whole grains over highly refined carbohydrates will make a difference. Skipping sugary, fizzy drinks for water or natural options also makes a difference. Limit saturated fats in favor of their healthy equivalents and consider swapping red meat and processed meat for poultry or fish.
As an employer, it is in your interest to have a healthy workforce. Healthy employees are more productive and less likely to require unplanned days off. This means your business will run more smoothly.
Diabetes screening is easy and cost-effective. The aim is to identify who is at risk and prevent those employees from developing diabetes. It will benefit both you as an employer and your staff.
Recently released Diabetes Screening Platform powered by TrueCare™ is a comprehensive solution which gives a fast, complimentary analysis allows employees to assess their risk level. Each team member receives a risk report with individual recommendations. As a next step, employees can then schedule a consultation with our fully credentialed clinical team for additional advice and guidance.
Diabetes screening and encouraging lifestyle changes can help your company create a healthier culture throughout the business. You will see the benefits in heightened staff morale and increased productivity.
TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.