Economic burden of diabetes 'staggering'

Canadian Diabetes Association raises warning flags after Ontario report pegs cost of disease at $4.9 billion per year

The economic burden of diabetes in Ontario is “staggering” and is threatening the sustainability of the economy and the health-care system, according to Michael Cloutier, president and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

"It's estimated the direct and indirect financial impact of diabetes in Ontario currently costs the province $4.9 billion per year,” said Cloutier. “By 2020, these costs will increase to $7 billion per year if we don't take action."

Cloutier made the remarks as the association released the findings from its Ontario Diabetes Cost Model. It shows the cost and prevalence of diabetes in the province has risen sharply over the last 10 years and, without action, will continue to increase substantially over the next 10 years.

The economic burden of diabetes represents only a part of Ontario's challenge. The human cost of the disease is also reaching epidemic proportions in the province. The Ontario Diabetes Cost Model estimates there are currently 1.2 million people, or 8.2 per cent of the population, diagnosed with diabetes in Ontario — increasing to more than 1.9 million people, or 11.9 per cent of the population, by 2020. These figures do not include people undiagnosed with diabetes or people living with prediabetes, where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for an individual to be diagnosed with the disease.

"One in four Ontarians will be living either with diabetes or prediabetes by 2020," said Cloutier. "Turning the tide against diabetes requires a significant shift in government approach, private sector involvement and broad-based personal and societal change."

To offset the burden caused by diabetes, the Canadian Diabetes Association has recommended the government adjust its current Ontario Diabetes Strategy to reflect three key priorities:

•a broad-based diabetes prevention strategy

•a targeted population-at-risk strategy

•a diabetes complications prevention strategy.

"We need to focus on how we think about and approach diabetes management and prevention," said Cloutier.

This is the second provincial cost model report released by the Canadian Diabetes Association. The first report was released this past May for New Brunswick. The association continues to roll out diabetes cost models for all provinces and territories.

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