BOSTON—January 4, 2019—Diabetes is a growing problem for American families and the healthcare system. According to the CDC, more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar is elevated, but not yet to the levels of type 2 diabetes. Most people do not know they have prediabetes. Only 11.6% of people with the condition are aware.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that diagnosed diabetes costs $327 billion a year. One in seven healthcare dollars in the U.S. is spent treating diabetes and its complications.
The good news is diabetes is largely preventable through healthy lifestyle measures like healthy diet and exercise. We know this because of the results of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which started as a randomized controlled study in 1996. The study followed people who were randomly divided into three groups: an intensive lifestyle change program, a medication group, and a control group. The trial ended early because the results were so compelling—taking metformin resulted in a 31% lower risk of developing diabetes, and the lifestyle change program resulted in a 58% lower risk. Older people fared even better: those in the lifestyle change program who started after age 60 lowered their diabetes risk by 71%. Since then, researchers continued to follow most of the participants over the following 15 years and found the DPP Lifestyle Change program continued to be effective in preventing diabetes and was cost-effective after 10 years.
The CDC launched a diabetes prevention program curriculum, Prevent T2, in 2016, and for years Medicare has reimbursed lifestyle change programs to prevent diabetes run by clinical centers. Now, as of 2018, Medicare will reimburse non-clinical centers—like health clubs—who deliver CDC recognized diabetes prevention programs.