A new Harvard study says diabetes rates in North Carolina have nearly doubled in 20 years, Philanthropy North Carolina has reported.
That surge costs billions of dollars in medical spending and a less efficient workforce, according to the study from Harvard Law School. At its current pace, it says, diabetes is on track to cost the state's public and private sectors over $17 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity by 2025.
Diabetes is now the seventh-leading cause of death in the state, where the disease is far more prevalent than in the U.S. overall, the study says. And among African Americans and American Indians in the state, it is the fourth-leading and third-leading cause of death, respectively.
The study, “2014 New Carolina State Report: Providing Access to Healthy Solutions (PATHS)—The Diabetes Epidemic in North Carolina: Policies for Moving Forward” calls for “multipronged changes to the state's healthcare, nutrition and physical activity landscapes.
Among those recommendations are:
- Expand telemedicine programs and access to durable medical equipment and insulin.
- Increase access to diabetes prevention and self-management programs.
- Promote “team-based, whole-person models” to deliver and finance diabetes care.
Other recommendations include improved behavioral health services for people with diabetes, increased economic and geographic access to healthy food, more opportunities for physical activities, and nutrition and cooking education, and expanded programs for early childhood, school food, nutrition and wellness.
The study was funded through a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Philanthropy North Carolina reported on the study in a joint project with NCPressRelease.com, with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.