KEY TAKEAWAY: Diabetes leads a list of just 20 diseases and conditions that account for more than half of all spending on health care in the United States, according to a new comprehensive financial analysis. Should doctors tell obese patients that they are endangering themselves and on the road to a debilitating disease?
U.S. spending on diabetes diagnosis and treatment totaled $101 billion in 2013, and has grown 36 times faster than spending on heart disease, the country’s No. 1 cause of death, researchers reported.
“After adjusting for inflation, we see that every year the U.S. is spending 6 percent more than we spent the year before on diabetes,” said lead researcher Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “That’s really a remarkable growth rate, notably faster than the economy is growing or health care spending as a whole,” he said.
OK. Let’s be honest here, diabetes in the US is out of control. The AMA has a responsibility to teach HCP’s how to have the “uncomfortable conversation” around weight, diet and exercise.
Many doctors report they don’t have time to talk to patients about weight loss strategies, while others struggle with being overweight themselves and feel uncomfortable broaching the subject with a patient. Many doctors simply haven’t been trained.
But doctors can still influence their patients to lose weight. A study published last year by the University of Georgia found that patients were more motivated to lose weight after their doctors advised them to do so, even if they weren’t prepared to hear the message. Another study showed that patients were more likely to understand their weight and try to lose weight after talking to a doctor.
However, a more comprehensive approach is needed. Diabetes, and obesity, are a national health emergency and the FDA and our government need to tackle diabetes the same way we tackled smoking. We need to educate people how being overweight can lead to lack of energy and other =, more serious, health problems.
Pharma also needs to get involved in prevention of obesity. Companies need to band together and raise the alarm instead of looking at obesity as a new market to be conquered.