Chances are you know someone with diabetes. And if you do, you know that daily tasks like blood sugar checks, insulin injections, and constant doctor's appointments are familiar costly chores of the illness.

But did you know that diabetes could be costing you, even if you aren't diabetic?

In fact, 62% of diabetes care is covered by taxpayers through government health insurance programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare, says the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes cost the US $174 billion in 2007 and $245 billion in 2012, a 41% increase over 5 years. That means the cost of diabetes in the US rivals the gross domestic products of entire countries, like Pakistan.

Source: American Diabetes Association and CIA World Factbook

The cost of treating diabetes: $176 billion in direct medical costs; $69 billion in direct medical costs. Source: American Diabetes Association

How many people have type 2 diabetes?

More than 29 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And type 2 diabetes is growing among children. In fact, the prevalence of this diagnosis has risen 35% among young people ages of 10 to 17 between 2001 and 2009 alone.

The risk of getting type 2 diabetes runs in families. For instance, if mom is diagnosed with diabetes before age 50, her child's risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by more than 14%, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA). If both parents are diagnosed, the child's risk surges to 50%.

What's behind the high cost of diabetes?

Breakdown of the costs of diabetes: hospital stays: 43%, prescriptions for diabetes complications: 18%, anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies: 12%, doctor's visits: 9%, nursing/residential facility stays: 8%. Source: American Diabetes Association

Hospital stays are the biggest direct cost of diabetes care. And that number doesn't include intangibles like:

  • missing out on a loved one's milestones because you're in the hospital
  • time family and friends spend helping with your care in the hospital and at home
  • heartache some family members experience knowing that their loved one is sick

How much does diabetes cost individuals with the illness?

About $7,900 per year, according to the American Diabetes Association. That's 2.3 times more than what you'd spend on medical expenses if you didn't have the illness.

$85,200: average lifetime cost of type 2 diabetes for men and women. Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2013

Think about what you could do with $85,000 over a lifetime if you didn't have type 2 diabetes.

Of this average lifetime cost, more than half ‹ 53% ‹ is spent on treating diabetic complications, according to a September 2013 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Age at time of diagnosis Lifetime medical costs associated with treating type 2 diabetes for men Lifetime medical costs associated with treating type 2 diabetes for women
25-44 years old $124,700 $130,800
45-54 years old $106,200 $110,400
55-64 years old $84,000 $85,500
65 or older $54,700 $56,600

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2013

Then, there are costs of the disease you can't count:

  • Losing your mobility from a limb amputation
  • Losing your vision
  • Losing your life

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the US with 73,831 people dying of diabetes or related complications each year, according to the CDC.

How much does preventing diabetes cost?

Type 2 diabetes is preventable. It often stems from a lack of physical exercise and an unhealthy diet.

If you estimate the average annual cost of gym membership is $420 ($35 / month) and a pair of sneakers is $50, it would cost you $470 a year to stay physically fit.

And swapping out unhealthy foods with fruits, vegetables and whole grains may bring your grocery bill up a bit, but by far less than $7,900 a year.

Talk to a West Valley doctor today about how you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

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