It's often said that maintaining your health will result in spending less money on doctor's visits, tests and prescription medicine.
It would make sense that is true, but can anyone really back it up? Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say they can.
In a study, they found that overweight people who have diabetes can save, on average, $500 per year by shedding pounds through proper diet and exercise.
"Lifestyle interventions promoting weight loss and physical activity are recommended for overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes to improve their health," said Mark A. Espeland, lead author of the study. "This is the first study to show that weight loss can also save money for these individuals by reducing their health care needs and costs."
In the study, subjects with type 2 diabetes, a condition largely the result of obesity and other lifestyle factors, were put on an intensive lifestyle intervention program, supplemented with diabetes support and education. Others in the study maintained their normal lifestyle and managed their diabetes solely through medication.
The researchers say at the end of the study, those who lost weight and adopted a healthier lifestyle had 11% fewer hospitalizations. Those who were admitted to hospitals were discharged 15% earlier. They also had to purchase fewer medications.
The researchers were able to put a dollar amount on those differences. The group that lost weight saved an average $5,280 over 10 years – or $528 per year.
Espeland said the people who lost weight and increased physical activity improved their overall health because they had better control of their diabetes, blood pressure, sleep quality, physical function and symptoms of depression. The cost savings appeared to be consistent regardless of age, initial weight, gender or ethnicity.
"Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that is affecting more and more adults, increasing their health care needs and costs," Espeland said. "This study shows that by losing weight and being physically active, individuals can reduce these costs."
Boost for corporate wellness programs
The findings may provide additional support for corporate wellness programs, that provide incentives for employees to get regular exercise and adopt a healthy lifestyle. According to Kiplinger, more than 40% of large employers surveyed by the National Business Group currently offer their employees some kind of incentive for participating in a wellness programs.
The average incentive is just under $400. The corporations hope to recoup the cost of those incentives through lower health insurance premiums, as well as increased worker productivity and fewer sick days.
According to Kiplinger, some employers may add $75 to an employee's health savings account if they participate in an exercise program.
The U.S. military is grappling with the effects poor lifestyle choices have on health, not just in dealing with rising health care costs but in filling out its ranks.
According to Army Magazine, about 1 in 4 possible recruits is eligible to enlist. Some of the other 75% might be ineligible, have weight or medical issues that keep them out of uniform.
It quotes Army officials as say the declining pool of recruits is a problem, so the urgency for better health and lifestyle choices is no longer simply a national health issue, nor just an economic one -- it's a matter of national security.
It's often said that maintaining your health will result in spending less money on doctor's visits, tests and prescription medicine. It would make sense t...