Diabetes: the biggest loser

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Move it or lose it. That's what Americans need to do now to curb the growth in spending as a result of the diabetes epidemic.

The predictions are staggering. Costs are predicted to soar to $336 billion in 2034 from $113 billion now. That comes as the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to nearly double over the next 25 years. Those statistics come from the December issue of Diabetes Care journal.

The reason for the tremendous hike in diabetes spending is that more people will be living with the disease longer and, as a result, suffering from the severe health consequences. These include heart disease, renal disease and amputations. Pretty scary stuff. And we all know that nursing homes will be responsible for caring for residents with these conditions.

Meanwhile, another study from Emory University found that 43% of adults would be considered obese by 2018, with spending on obesity-related chronic conditions, such as diabetes, soaring to $344 billion annually.

Diabetes and obesity are so common it's easy to forget we can control them.  As we know, it starts with eating well and staying fit. These two actions both help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, the most common type in older adults, and keep the disease under control.

We all know that taking care of our bodies is good for us. Just recently, a study in the journal Circulation found that people who exercise have better health and live longer.

So why don't we do it?

Is it complacency? Too many other life stresses? Both are possible. But as the numbers indicate, neglecting our physical health only hurts us—as individuals and our healthcare system—in the long run. So let's get moving. Literally. 

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.