OECD calls for cost effective ways to prevent and manage diabetes

by Sarita Sheth on August 31, 2012

Some countries have passed legislation taxing food rich in fat and sugar

With health budgets in Europe under strain from the ongoing eurozone weak economic conditions, cost effective ways need to be found to prevent and manage the current diabetes explosion, it is claimed.

At the latest meeting of the European Diabetes Leadership Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, over 800 participants from governments, the private sector, and consumer organisations across Europe met to discuss workable solutions.

They heard that across countries that are members of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) some 83 million people suffer from diabetes. On current trends, that will rise to almost 100 million by 2030.

Speaking at the forum OECD deputy director general Yves Leterme said that preventing and treating diabetes and its complications costs about €90 billion annually in Europe alone.

‘With health budgets already under great pressure and national budgets severely strained, for the sake of our health and the health of our economies we must find ways to prevent and manage diabetes in a cost-effective manner,’ he told the meeting.

He pointed out that like other chronic diseases, diabetes reduces employment opportunities and earnings. In addition, diabetics are prone to depression, making it difficult to follow treatment guidelines.

It is estimated that in the coming 10 years, more than two out of three people will be overweight or obese in some OECD countries. This has an impact on both their salaries and their health. Across OECD countries, obese people earn up to 18% less than non-obese people. And they are eight times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This jumps to 60 times more likely for the severely obese.

The meeting heard that in terms of tackling obesity promoting healthy nutrition and exercise are more cost effective than the treatment routinely provided by health services. Leterme said that governments must work with the food and beverage industry, medical practices, schools and community groups to promote healthy life styles.

He pointed out that Denmark, Finland, France, and Hungary have already passed legislation taxing foods rich in fat and sugar and OECD research shows that chronic diseases such as diabetes can be managed more efficiently through programmes to encourage patients to control their conditions and some have shown positive results.

Payment systems and diseases management programmes rewarding good outcomes and continuity of care have been introduced with some success in the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Placing community care at the centre of health systems to improve quality of diabetes care can also help. Austria and Hungary admit double the OECD average of diabetics to hospital. In Finland, Sweden and Denmark, men are more likely to be admitted than women.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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