HEALTH

Diabetes population to double, costs to nearly triple by 2034

BY Michael Johnsen

PRINCETON, N.J. The number of people in the United States with diabetes will nearly double over the next 25 years, while spending on the disease will nearly triple, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Chicago.

According to the study — commissioned by Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk through its National Changing Diabetes Program and published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care — 44.1 million people will have diabetes in 2034, while spending on the disease will total $336 billion. Those figures currently are 23.7 million and $113 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, Medicare patients with diabetes will more than double, from 6.5 million to 14.1 million, while Medicare spending will go from $45 billion this year to $171 billion in 2034.

“Obesity is a significant driver of future increases in the number of Americans with diabetes,” University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center researcher and study author Michael O’Grady said in a statement. “While our modeling, as well as that done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, project obesity rates leveling off, neither model has obesity rates lowering substantially.”

The researchers used a model that considers factors not used by government budget analysts, including natural progression of the disease, effects of treatment and U.S. obesity rates.

“High obesity rates among the American population over an extended period of time substantially increases the probability of developing Type 2 diabetes,” O’Grady said.

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American Dental Association petitions FDA to classify, regulate tooth-whitening products

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO The American Dental Association asked the Food and Drug Administration to establish appropriate classifications for tooth-whitening chemicals.

Citing concern about the safety of whitening products that are often administered without the benefit of professional consultation or examination by a dentist, the association said that the application of chemically-based tooth whitening or bleaching agents can harm teeth, gums and other tissues in the mouth.

The ADA pointed out that such concerns have prompted many states to prevent application of tooth whitening products in nondental settings.

“The tremendous expansion of products available directly to consumers and application of products in venues such as shopping malls, cruise ships, and salons is troubling since consumers have little or no assurance regarding the safety of product ingredients, doses or the professional qualifications of individuals employed in these non-dental settings,” said ADA pesident Dr. Ron Tankersley and executive director Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, in a letter to the agency.

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CDC reports decrease in flu activity

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Although 43 states have reported widespread influenza activity for the week ended Nov. 14, numbers appear to be dropping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted Friday.

In its weekly situational update, the CDC reported that the number of states reporting widespread activity of the H1N1 virus dropped to 43 from 46 in the past week. Additionally, influenza-like illnesses nationally decreased again to 5.5%. This is the third consecutive week of national decreases after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases.

On a regional level, the percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses ranged from 2.6% to 7.9% during week 45, and decreased in all 10 surveillance regions, compared with the previous week. All 10 regions, however, reported a proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses above their region-specific baseline levels (2.3%).

“Influenza is unpredictable, and it is so early in the year to have this much disease. We don’t know if these declines will persist, what the slope will be, whether we’ll have a long decline or it will start to go up again,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of cases that feature a mutated version of the virus, which apparently is resistant to antiviral Tamiflu, making the disease much more severe. Schuchat, however, said the mutation is no reason for alarm.

“I don’t think it has the public health implications that we would wonder about,” she said, noting that some patients have gotten severely ill, including developing pneumonia, after being infected with strains of the virus without the mutation.

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