Cost of diabetes 'an economic tsunami': report

Diabetes is expected to cost Canada about $12.2 billion in 2010, nearly double its level a decade ago, the Canadian Diabetes Association says.

Diabetes is expected to cost Canada about $12.2 billion in 2010, nearly double the level of a decade ago, the Canadian Diabetes Association said Monday.

The association based its estimate on Canadian data, unlike previous projections based on U.S. models.

Every hour of every day, more than 20 people will be diagnosed with diabetes for the foreseeable future, the report warns.

"If left unchecked, the economic burden of diabetes in Canada could escalate to nearly $17 billion by 2020, an increase of more than $10 billion from 2000, and the number of Canadians diagnosed with diabetes will have nearly tripled," Ellen Malcolmson, President and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association, said in a release.

"The results are a sobering reminder of the action required to reduce the burden of diabetes in Canada while improving the individual health for people living with the disease."

The $12.2 billion figure is an increase of $5.9 billion from 2000. The annual cost includes direct expenses such as doctor visits, hospitalizations and medication, alone with indirect economic losses from long-term disability and premature death. The costs were all expressed in 2005 dollars for comparison purposes.

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in Canada is also expected to nearly double between 2000 and 2010, from 1.3 million to 2.5 million.

Today nearly one in four Canadians either has diabetes or a "pre-diabetes" condition, the group said.

"Rising obesity rates, sedentary lifestyles, an aging population and changes in the ethnic mix of new immigrants have and will continue to drive these increases," the report's authors wrote in the report, titled, "An Economic Tsunami: the Cost of Diabetes in Canada."

People of South Asian, Asian, African and Hispanic descent, as well as aboriginal Canadians, are at higher risk for diabetes.

To offset costs and reduce incidence, Malcolmson called for resources for manage the disease better and help decrease both hospitalization rates and medical complications associated with diabetes.

The report's authors recommended immediate action in three areas:

  • A renewed Canadian diabetes strategy and aboriginal diabetes initiative.
  • Tax credits and deductions to address the out-of-pocket costs for people living with diabetes, such as medication, supplies like glucose test strips, and devices.
  • Investment in high-quality research, including partnerships with Canadian universities, research institutions and hospitals.

Last week, Canadian researchers said fewer than one-third of patients with diabetes were receiving all four recommended clinical tests that should be the norm for people living with the condition.

It's thought that better control of diabetes may help prevent serious health complications and prolong life for people with the disease. Complications may include blindness, lower limb amputations, kidney failure and heart disease.