Study finds that lifestyle changes had the most positive impact on our wallets, more than prescriptions for preventive meds.
For a slew of reasons, the notion of preventative health just hasn't caught on here in the United States in the way that it should. Instead, we have adopted an attitude of living as unhealthy as possible to the point where we have developed chronic diseases that must be treated by expensive medicines and constant check-ups for the rest of our lives.
But isn't it "cheaper" to shell out the money to live healthier now, so we when we get older we can reap the health and monetary benefits of living better? A new study about diabetes would say most definitely.
Researchers from the University of Michigan found that preventing type 2 diabetes not only improves an individual's quality of life, it also saves quite a bit of money.
By treating people who were at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, researchers reduced medical costs by $2,600 for each person enrolled in a lifestyle changes group, and by $1,500 for each of those taking the diabetes drug metformin over the course of 10 years.
But when the savings in medical care were balanced against the costs of the interventions, metformin saved $30 over 10 years, while the lifestyle intervention cost $1,700 over the same time span.
"Compared to doing nothing to prevent type 2 diabetes, metformin is cost-saving as an intervention. Lifestyle intervention, though not cost-saving, is cost-effective," Dr. William Herman, a study author and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, told an American Diabetes Association (ADA) press conference.
Herman noted that during the 10-year study follow-up, lifestyle intervention reduced the rate of diabetes by 34 percent, while metformin reduced the rate of type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.
It's also important to note the lifestyle changes that the researchers had the participants make. With the help of nutritionists and personal trainers, the goal was for each person to lose 7 percent of body fat, make behavior changes and work out 150 minutes per week. In the first three years of this study, researchers found that lifestyle interventions reduced the rate of diabetes by 58 percent, while taking metformin dropped the incidence of diabetes by 31 percent.
If these numbers are correct, 58 percent is huge when it comes to our health. And this news is extremely relevant to us, given the soaring rates of Type-2 diabetes in our community. Fifteen percent of all African-Americans who are 20 and older have diabetes; 25 percent of African-Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes; and 25 percent of Black women over 55 have diabetes. Diabetes can lead to other serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputations, nerve damage and even death.
So yes, eating healthy can be more expensive. And gym memberships depending on where you live aren't cheap either. But when it comes to a life of not having to be dependent on tons of medications, isn't it worth the sacrifice?
Read tips about reducing your chance of developing diabetes here.
(Photo: Rob Kim /Landov)