The number of people living with diabetes doubled throughout the 1990s and 2000s, growing into a significant public health threat. About 30.3 million (9.4%) of Americans had diabetes according to the latest population surveys from 2015, with 1 in 4 of these individuals unaware they had the disease. Another 1 in 3 adults also had prediabetes. While numerous advances in diabetes therapies have emerged over the years, diabetes was still the 7th leading cause of death in the US.
Diabetes increases the risk for other diseases and conditions
People with diabetes are at risk and often develop other coexisting health conditions and complications if left unmanaged. What’s even more concerning is that individuals with diabetes also have a higher chance of developing heart disease (and at a younger age) and are at a 2 to 3-fold increased risk for heart attacks and stroke.
Diabetes costs the workplace
In addition to medical costs, there are considerable societal costs associated with diabetes. As a chronic disease, diabetes can result in recurring and unplanned absences due to several complications, as well as stress and fatigue, which can cost employers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, in addition to medical claims. The Integrated Benefits Institute’s absence cost estimator tool shows that unplanned absences, 84% of which due to injury or illness, could cost a company with 1,000 full-time employees $1.5 million annually in lost productivity and wage replacements.
The ADA study also reported indirect costs, including increased absenteeism ($3.3 billion) and reduced productivity while at work ($26.9 billion) amongst the working population, reduced productivity for the unemployed ($2.3 billion), inability to work as a result of disease-related disabilities ($37.5 billion), and lost productivity due to 277,000 premature deaths attributed to diabetes ($19.9 billion).
Consider Diabetes Prevention Programs
Workplace health has undergone massive improvements over the years as more individuals become invested in achieving healthier lives and continue to choose employers that offer benefits that support their health goals. While some employers have implemented various wellness initiatives in the workplace, such as employee engagement activities, on-site fitness and medical facilities, and access to healthier food, partnering with community programs are another excellent option for employers who may not have the resources for onsite offerings.
In particular, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in 2010 to offer evidence-based and cost-effective lifestyle change programs across the country. The structured program, available in-person, online, through distance learning, or a combination, focuses on research-based healthy eating and physical activity behavior changes. You can find Newtopia on the DPP registry.
As outlined above, while diabetes and its numerous complications have huge financial implications on insurers (especially Medicare), and employers (absenteeism, reduced productivity, and higher health expenditures), the fact is that these costs burden all of society through higher insurance premiums and taxes, reduced earnings, and a lower standard of living. These healthcare and societal costs should be addressed through proactive disease prevention. Wouldn’t you agree that the time to take action is now?
The Efficacy of Hyper-personalized Coaching
Newtopia understands that there are many ways to lower the risks of developing type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes. Developing and maintaining healthy habits is the first line of action in preventing diabetes, improving overall health, and controlling the rise in drug and disability claim costs.
Providing hyper-personalized coaching support, modeled after an individual’s unique needs based on personality, level of motivation, health data, and even genetic predisposition to risks associated with metabolic syndrome (revealed by genetic markers that can be identified through an optional genetic test) can allow health coaches to successfully personalize lessons, weight-loss goals, and exercise and nutrition programs to help build sustainable healthy habits that prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.
Many individuals are turning to health coaches to support them on their journey to healthy living. People appreciate having access to an accountability partner and someone to give them customized actionable tips that can be easily implemented into daily life. A solution that is designed to reinforce sustainable lifestyle changes and the adoption of healthy habits will ultimately help employers and their employees achieve long-term population health success.