Government researchers are touting a nationwide, community-based initiative that their recent study suggests could curb diagnosis of type 2 diabetes by as many as 885,000 cases over the next 25 years.
The $24 billion required to fund the program could be recouped in 14 years in the form of medical-care costs, which could amount to $29.8 billion in savings.
"The take-home message is that implementing screening and community-based lifestyle interventions can improve health and reduce health care costs over the long term. This is an efficient use of health care resources," said Xiaohui Zhuo of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lead researcher of the government study.
The CDC estimates that 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to sedentary lifestyles and obesity. The American Diabetes Association recommends preventive measures of exercise, a healthy diet, and a lower weight.
The government study, "Promoting a Lifestyle of Activity and Nutrition for Working to Alter the Risk of Diabetes,” published in the journal Health Affairs, pushes a program that would include diabetes testing for people 65 to 84 and a 16-session educational and training system for all adults that would help participants lose weight and develop healthier habits.
Zhuo estimates there would be a 50 percent reduction in the risk of diabetes within the first two years of the program’s implementation.
The program faces a funding hurdle, with the government expected to pay about $300 per participant in the first year alone.