80 percent of Type 2 diabetes in the United States can be prevented with three steps that do not have to cost money: stopping smoking, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. ONE in 10 Americans has diabetes, and if present trends continue, one in three will suffer from the disease by the year 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Already this incurable, chronic and often debilitating illness costs the country’s health care system a staggering $174 billion a year. So why aren’t we doing more ?
Obesity is an epidemic in this country and it’s costing all of us a lot of money. Diabetes patients spend an average of $6,000 annually for treatment of their disease, according to a recent report by Consumer Reports Health. That figure includes monitoring supplies, medicines, doctor visits, annual eye exams and other routine costs. In other words it’s time to do something rather than just talk about it.
Here are some easy suggestions to implement:
(1) All patients who are overweight should be given educational materials on the dangers of obesity – Time to take the gloves off here. Physicians need to give patients hard hitting factual educational brochures on how obesity could effect their health.
(2) Tax fattening fast food – The same way we taxed cigarettes and use the money to fight obesity.
(3) Work with insurers to offer financial incentives to people who lose weight – Everyone is looking to save money today this could be a powerful financial motivator.
(4) Reward HCP’s who warn patients about diabetes and begin to work with patients to get their diabetes under control – Physicians can no longer just accept the fact that their patients are going to gain weight. They need to have a serious talk with patients but more importantly insurers need to reward physicians who take the time to educate and work with patients to prevent diabetes.
(5) Insurers should require high risk patients to meet with dietitians and meet with them regularly to amend their diets and make a plan to fight off diabetes.
Finally the healthcare community in general needs to make fat socially unacceptable the same way they did for smoking. This may not be politically correct but we all know that obese people are discriminated against. It needs to be done in a way that does not add to the discrimination yet shames these people to make the sacrifices necessary to change their lifestyles. We just can’t afford to ignore this anymore.