Overweight individuals with diabetes who lose
weight by dieting and increasing their physical activity can reduce their
health care costs by an average of more than $500 per year, according to a new
“Lifestyle interventions promoting weight loss and
physical activity are recommended for overweight and obese people with Type 2 diabetes
to improve their health,” said Mark A. Espeland, Ph.D., professor of public health
sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and lead author of the study.
“This is the first study to show that weight loss can also save money for these
individuals by reducing their health care needs and costs.”
The research is published in the Aug. 21 online issue of
the journal Diabetes Care.
study evaluated 5,121 obese and overweight people between the ages of 45 and 76
with Type 2 diabetes who participated in the National Institute of
Health-sponsored Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) study beginning in
2001. Half of the participants at each of the study’s 16 sites across the
country were randomly assigned to intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) or diabetes
support and education (DSE) programs, and their medical histories were tracked
in the ILI group had 11 percent fewer hospitalizations and 15 percent shorter
hospital stays. They also used fewer
prescription New Linkmedications. Both of these
benefits of ILI contributed to an average saving of $5,280 per person in health
care costs over 10 years (or $528 per year).
Espeland said the people in the ILI program maintained
lower weights and higher levels of physical activity throughout the study than those
in the DSE group, resulting in better control of their diabetes, blood
pressure, sleep quality, physical function and symptoms of depression. He added
that the cost savings for those in the ILI group were relatively consistent
regardless of age, initial weight, gender or ethnicity.
“Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that is affecting
more and more adults, increasing their health care needs and costs,” Espeland
said. “This study shows that by losing weight and being physically active,
individuals can reduce these costs.”
The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes
and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health with
additional support from the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute of the NIH
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Co-authors of the study are Alain Bertoni, M.D., Julia
Rushing, M.S., and Don G. Hire, B.S., Wake Forest Baptist; Henry A. Glick,
Ph.D., and Thomas A. Wadden, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Frederick L. Brancati,
M.D., and Jeanne M. Clark, M.D., Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; George A.
Bray, M.D., and Donna H. Ryan, M.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center; Jeffrey
M. Curtis, M.D., William C. Knowler, M.D., Ph.D., and Tina Killean, Phoenix
Indian Medical Center; Rena R. Wing, Ph.D., and Caitlin Egan, M.S., Brown
Medical School/The Miriam Hospital; Mary Evans, Ph.D., Van S. Hubbard, M.D.,
Ph.D., and Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases; John P. Foreyt, Ph.D., and Henry Pownall, Ph.D.,
Baylor College of Medicine; Siran Ghazarian, M.D., and Anne L. Peters, M.D., Roybal
Comprehensive Health Center; Edward W. Gregg, Ph.D., and Ping Zhang, Ph.D., Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention; Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., and Maria G.
Montez, M.S., University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio; James
O. Hill, Ph.D., Adam G. Tsai, M.D., and Marsha Miller, University of Colorado
Health Sciences Center at Aurora; Edward S. Horton, M.D., Joslin Diabetes
Center; John M. Jakicic, Ph.D., and Andrea Kriska, Ph.D., University of
Pittsburgh; Robert W. Jeffery, Ph.D., and J. Bruce Redmon, M.D., University of
Minnesota; Karen C. Johnson, M.D., Abbas E. Kitabchi, M.D., and Ebenezer A. Nyenwe,
M.D., University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center at Memphis; Steven E.
Kahn, M.B., and Anne Murillo, B.S., University of Washington; Cora E. Lewis,
M.D., and Monika Safford, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham; David M.
Nathan, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital; and Xavier P. Sunyer, M.D., and Jennifer
Patricio, M.S., St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.