Half of American Adults Headed for Diabetes by 2020, UnitedHealth Says

Half of American Adults Headed for Diabetes:

Half of all American adults are destined to develop diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020 if they don't slim down, according to a dire new prediction that pegs the cost of their care at $3.35 billion by decade's end.

Under the scenario, if current trends continue, the ranks of American adults with excessive blood sugar levels would swell from 93.8 million this year (about 28 million diabetics and 66 million more with pre-diabetes) to 135 million in 2020.

Sixty percent of the annual $500 billion burden of the obesity-driven diabetes epidemic would
be borne by the U.S. government, according to "The United States of Diabetes," a provocative working paper produced by the Center for Health Reform & Modernization, part of the healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group Inc.

UnitedHealth issued the report on the heels of an Oct. 22 forecast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that as many as 1 in 3 adults could be diabetic by 2050. That's an enormous jump from current diabetes prevalence, which is 1 in 10 among adults.

The nation's "diabesity" epidemic, part of a paired global rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes, has enormous ramifications for Americans' health and well-being, as well as their pocketbooks.Type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease associated with excess body weight, is a powerful driver of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation, all of which are expensive conditions.

"Our new research shows there is a diabetes time bomb ticking in America, but fortunately there are practical steps that can be taken now to defuse it," Simon Stevens, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group and chairman of its Center for Health Reform & Modernization, said in a prepared statement. "Making a major impact on the pre-diabetes and diabetes epidemic will require health plans to engage consumers in new ways, while working to scale nationally some of the most promising preventive care models."