Economic organization calls for cost-effective diabetes prevention, management

The head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday called for countries around the world to implement more cost-effective diabetes management and prevention strategies.

Speaking at the European Diabetes Leadership Forum in Copenhagen, OECD Deputy Director General Yves Leterme said, “Preventing and treating diabetes and its complications costs about €90 billion annually in Europe alone. With health budgets already under great pressure and national budgets severely strained, for the sake of our health and the health of our economies we must find ways to prevent and manage diabetes in a cost-effective manner.”

Global healthcare expenditures to prevent and treat diabetes and its complications totaled at least $376 billion or about 11.6 percent of the total healthcare expenditure in the world in 2010, according to the International Diabetes Federation. By 2030, this number will exceed $490 billion if current trends continue.

The OECD reports that the United States has the second highest prevalence of diabetes among adults worldwide. Mexico is the country with the highest prevalence, followed in descending order by the US, Portugal, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Korea, India, Slovenia and Poland.

Prevention strategies are the first line against type 2 diabetes. The OECD promotes a healthy diet and increased physical activity to help tackle obesity, a significant risk factor for developing the disease.

In the next 10 years, more than two out of three people will be overweight or obese in some OECD countries. Obese people are eight times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and severely obese people are 60 times more likely to develop the disease, according to OECD.

“Governments must work with the food and beverage industry, medical practices, schools and community groups to promote healthy life-styles,” according to a statement by the OECD. It cites legislation taxing foods rich in fat and sugar in Denmark, Finland, France and Hungary as examples.

The organization has three recommendations for more efficient management of diabetes and other chronic diseases. First, they suggest programs to encourage patients to control their conditions, some of which have shown positive results.

A second strategy is to institute payment systems and disease management programs that reward good outcomes and continuity of care. Such programs have found some positive results in the Netherlands, France, Germany and the UK.

Finally, OECD recommends placing community care at the center of health systems to improve quality of diabetes care.

Sources: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Diabetes Federation

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