Diabetes: New Report Shows Spike

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Story Updated: Jul 28, 2010

One in ten upstate New York adults has been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and annual treatment costs are estimated to be $2.5 billion, according to a new report issued today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. More than 377,000 upstate adults have been diagnosed, which is 81,000 more than just five years ago.

“To provide a visual reference, 81,000 adults could fill the Carrier Dome one-and-a-half times,” said Dr. Marybeth McCall, Excellus BCBS vice president and chief medical officer. “That’s a staggering increase in adult diabetes here in upstate New York in the last five years.”

According to the Excellus BCBS report, “The Facts about Upstate New York adults with diagnosed type 1 and type 2 diabetes and estimated treatment costs,” 9.8 percent of upstate New York adults have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes; up from 8.2 percent in 2003.

In the Southern Tier, more than 44,000 adults ─ 11.3 percent of the adult population ─ have been diagnosed with diabetes.

McCall cites an aging population and the rise in obesity as the primary reasons for the increase in prevalence of diabetes.

The percentage of upstate New York adults who are overweight or obese, as classified by their body mass index (BMI), is 63 percent; up from 55 percent in 2003.

“The economic impact of diabetes and associated medical conditions and disabilities is something we should all be concerned about,” said McCall. “About one in five U.S. health care dollars is spent to provide care for individuals with diabetes.”

For those living with the disease, average medical expenditures are about 2.3 times higher than what they would be without diabetes.

Adults with diabetes face roughly twice the risk of dying as those without the disease who are of similar age. Diabetes kills more Americans each year than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It is the leading cause of new blindness, kidney disease, and non-traumatic lower extremity amputation. It also is a major contributor to the state’s and nation’s leading killer, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that if recent trends continue, eventually one in three Americans will develop diabetes during his/her lifetime.

“People need to change their attitudes and behaviors toward nutrition and exercise,” said McCall. “If they don’t, the cost of treating diabetes will cripple the health care system as Boomers age and already obese children reach adulthood.”

About Diabetes
  • Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In Type 1, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into the energy needed for daily life. Type 1 diabetes is lethal if not treated with insulin.
  • Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. In Type 2, either the body does not produce enough insulin or it loses its ability to properly utilize it. Generally, Type 2 diabetes is often preventable or amenable to lifestyle modifications and medication.


The full library of reports and fact sheets, including a fact sheet about the prevalence of obesity in upstate New York, is available on the Web by going to http://www.excellusbcbs.com and clicking on “Health Policy and Research” at the bottom of the page. Then scroll down to find “Fact Sheets, Surveys & Reports.”

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.7 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com or see our Docs On Call Experts page.

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