Diabetes care represents nearly one-quarter of the nation's medical care bill by some estimates. Treatment costs have doubled in just the last six years.
Now we learn the number of Americans with diabetes has more than doubled in this decade, from 11 to 23 million, mainly due to obesity.
The increase is concentrated in states with the highest obesity rates. Right now 1.3% of West Virginians have the disease. The rate in Minnesota is less than half that. Obesity rates in the worst states are up to 30%.
The solution is simple, wellness programs aimed at maintaining a proper weight. The answer is not going to come from new drugs.
Some people are genetically predisposed to being heavy, and others may have trouble getting satisfaction from food.
But if we can cut the obesity rate in half we can cut the cost of diabetes care in half. And if that is indeed 25% of our national health budget we've cut 12% right there.
That's a lot more than we would save from automating all our health systems, or from pushing everyone into an HMO.