More than 380 million people worldwide have diabetes. In 2011-2012, the estimated prevalence of diabetes in the United States was 12-14 percent, and the prevalence of prediabetes was 37-38 percent, which means that about half of the U.S. adult population now has diabetes or prediabetes (1).

Diabetes is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputations, and many other complications including death. As a result, diabetes not only takes an invaluable emotional and physical toll, but an extensive financial toll as well. In 2012, diabetes was estimated to induce costs of $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity (2).

Medical costs are 3.5 times higher for individuals with diabetes (3), and more than 1 in 5 health care dollars in the United States is spent on care for people with diagnosed diabetes (2). According to the American Diabetes Association’s workplace cost calculator, here is the scary truth of how diabetes affects a company with 1,000 employees:

  • 120 employees have diabetes
  • 34 of them are undiagnosed
  • 370 have prediabetes
  •  $4 million is the average annual insurance cost for employees with diabetes and prediabetes
  • $751,682 is the annual increased cost if 25 percent of employees with prediabetes develop diabetes

Without lifestyle intervention, up to 70% of those with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes (4). Even more concerning is that if current trends continue, both the prevalence and cost of diabetes is expected to keep increasing dramatically (5).

The good news is that lifestyle intervention significantly reduces the incidence of diabetes and improves the health outcomes of people who are already diabetic. The Diabetes Prevention Program found a 58% decreased incidence of diabetes with lifestyle intervention efforts (6). Additionally, lifestyle intervention provides health benefits for patients already diagnosed with diabetes, including improved BMI, HbA1c, and blood pressure (7).

The benefits of a healthier workforce are undeniable. Healthier employees ultimately translate to improved community, productivity, company morale, and reduced healthcare costs. Taking extra steps to tackle the devastating effects of diabetes can not only truly set your company apart, but also ultimately improve your bottom line. Take action today. See the Adopting Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors: Diabetes e-Learning Series. This series includes three unique courses designed to address the individual needs of those with diabetes, prediabetes, or a desire to learn how to reduce their risk.

Click here to see the Managing Diabetes course outline.

1. Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012. JAMA. 2015;314:1021-9. 
2. American Diabetes Association. Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2012. Diabetes Care. 2013;36:1033-46.
3. Health Care Cost Institute. Per Capita Health Care Spending on Diabetes: 2009-2013.
4. Tabak AG, Herder C, Rathmann W, Brunner EJ, Kivimaki M. Prediabetes: a high-risk state for diabetes development. Lancet. 2012;379:2279-90.
5. Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Gregg EW, Barker LE, Williamson DF. Projection of the year 2050 burden of diabetes in the US adult population: dynamic modeling of incidence, mortality, and prediabetes prevalence. Popul Health Metr. 2010;8:29.
6. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med. 2002;346:393-403.
7. Chen L, Pei JH, Kuang J, Chen HM, Chen Z, Li ZW, et al. Effect of lifestyle intervention in patients with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Metabolism. 2015;64:338-47.