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Diabetes costs have risen 41% in five years, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The cost of diabetes has increased by more than $70 billion over the past five years, according to new research from the American Diabetes Association.

The ADA announced the release of a report estimating that the total costs of diagnosed diabetes had risen 41%, from 2007’s $174 billion to $245 billion in 2012. The report, Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012, was commissioned by the ADA and addresses increased financial burden, health resources used and lost productivity associated with the disease.

"As the number of people with diabetes grows, so does the economic burden it places on this country," ADA chief scientific and medical officer Robert Ratner said. "The cost of diabetes is rising at a rate higher than overall medical costs with more than one-in-10 healthcare dollars in the country being spent directly on diabetes and its complications, and more than one-in-five healthcare dollars in the U.S. going to the care of people with diagnosed diabetes."

According to the organization, nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes — mostly Type 2, which results largely from lifestyle factors — while an additional 79 million are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a condition known as prediabetes. The total costs include direct medical costs of $176 billion and indirect medical costs of $69 billion, including absenteeism, reduced productivity, unemployment resulting from disability and lost productivity due to early mortality.

Medical expenditures for people with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than for those without the disease, and the primary driver of increased costs is the increasing prevalence of the disease in the United States, according to the report. Despite the introduction of new classes of medication for treating diabetes, diabetes drugs and supplies accounted for 12% of medical expenditures in 2007 and 2012.

The study found disparities between various demographic groups as well. Per capita health expenditures are $8,331 for men versus $7,458 for women. Hispanics had the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures, at $5,930, compared with $9,540 among blacks and $8,101 among whites. Meanwhile, government insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare covered 62.4% of the cost for diabetes care, compared with 34.4% paid by private insurance and 3.2% paid by the uninsured. Among states, California had the largest population of people with diabetes and thus the highest costs, at $27.6 billion; Florida had the fourth highest population of people with the disease, behind California, Texas and New York, but the second highest costs, at $18.9 billion.

"When it comes to the rising cost of diabetes, one of the key factors explaining the increase is that there are many more people that are now being treated for diabetes in the U.S.," Ratner said. "It is important to note that while treating diabetes is expensive, it is the fact that the prevalence of the disease is increasing dramatically. Recent estimates project that as many as one-in-three American adults will have diabetes in 2050. These numbers are alarming and further highlight the need for our nation to address this epidemic."

 

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Meijer, NuVal sponsor weight-loss competition

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A weight-loss competition sponsored by mass merchandise retailer Meijer and nutritional scoring company NuVal is enlisting 60,000 team members who will compete for $15,000 in prize money over three months.

Meijer said Thursday the Nu-Me Weight Loss Challenge would incentivize the team members from across the five states the retailer serves with $1,000 grand prizes for one team in each of eight divisions — those divisions being Northern, Mid-Michigan, Eastern, Western, Central and Southern regions, as well as supply chain and corporate divisions. Meijer operates 199 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Meijer has used the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System in its stores since 2009; the system scores foods and beverages based on various nutrients and other nutritional factors.

"Health and wellness is an important cornerstone of what we stand for at Meijer," Meijer lead dietician and healthy living adviser Shari Steinbach said. "NuVal has been a great partner for many years, offering a simple tool that helps shoppers make healthier food choices. We’re excited to offer team members an opportunity to engage with NuVal in a fun and informative way that will help them make healthy changes in their lives."

All team members were required to get verified weigh-ins at a Meijer pharmacy or at the company’s Grand Rapids, Mich., headquarters. The competition began on March 1 and lasts through late May and includes weekly activities through an internal portal that allows team members to win prizes for participating whether they’ve received a verified weigh-in or not. Through that portal, they will have access to weight loss strategies, NuVal tips for healthy eating and a feature that allows them to track their daily eating habits and exercise, as well as weekly newsletters with health and wellness ideas.

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Kroger annual sales up 7.1%

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday reported total sales of $96.8 billion, up 7.1% as compared with the prior fiscal year. After adjusting for the extra week in fiscal 2012, total sales increased to $94.8 billion or 4.9% compared with the prior fiscal year. Excluding fuel, total sales increased 6% over the same period last year. Further adjusting for the extra week, total sales excluding fuel increased 4%.

Identical sales were up 4.5% including fuel centers. For the quarter, comparable sales were up 3.5% (with fuel), marking 37 consecutive quarters of positive identical sales growth, Kroger noted.  

"Consumer confidence was fragile throughout the year," David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO, told analysts Thursday morning. "But it hit its lowest point this January as customers voiced heightened concern over taxes." And consumer confidence will remain a headwind into 2013, Dillon added, because of four factors: the state of the economy, gas prices, payroll taxes and government policy uncertainty.

That only means Kroger will need to continue to work hard on serving Kroger’s shopper, Dillon suggested. "We remain confident in our ability to delivery growth despite the economic uncertainty. Our team has produced strong results by executing our customer-first strategy over the last five years."

For the full year, trips were up though average marketbasket was down, Kroger reported. Though the number of loyal households and the number of trips out of those households were both on the rise. 

In early-afternoon trading, Kroger’s stock listing was up 3.6% to more than $30.40 per share. 

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