Dietary Interventions

Can dietary interventions treat diabetes' deathly global heathcare burdens? As the previous three articles in this series have highlighted, dietary interventions that can combat the rise of diabetes and obesity are numerous and plentiful, as is the growing body of science backing their efficacy, from herbs to vitamins, proteins and more. Probably not the kind of dietary intervention being called for to tackle the type 2 diabetes pandemic. Less numerous and plentiful are those who stride the governmental and bureaucratic halls of power (many in obesity-related, pre-type 2 diabetes states) with an understanding of the increasingly compelling economics that dietary interventions can not only be more effective healthwise in resolving this “time bomb” as it has been called, but that they can be cheaper too. Costs associated with diabetes treatment are estimated at $1m+ per hour to the US’s National Health Service, cost levels mimicked worldwide, leading an increasing number of academics and NGOs, if not governments (yet).
To wonder if enough is being done to battle the obesity driven, type 2 diabetes pandemic from a dietary point of view. Some estimates put the global cost of treatment for the problem at $200bn, expected to rise to $300bn by 2025. “One of the biggest health challenges”. Tracy Kelly, the clinical manager at leading health charity Diabetes US, told NutraIngredients, “Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the US today”. “Early intervention and support are vital to tackle the drastic increase of the condition and its expensive and devastating complications”, she said, noting obesity and overweight as the main risk factors in the rise of type 2 diabetes. “The Government has launched campaigns to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles, such as Change4Life however more needs to be done to raise awareness of the importance of keeping to a healthy weight, undertaking regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy balanced diet to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Only then will we stem increasing costs to the NHS”.

Societal Commitment

Cara Welch, PhD, the VP of scientific & regulatory affairs at the US trade group the Natural Products Association, agreed gaining societal commitment to real dietary change was the key challenge. “We’ve seen time after time that burdensome healthcare costs can be alleviated by investing in preventative measures both with nutritional foods and dietary supplements”, she said. “However, this does require commitment to education about proper nutrition and continued research in diet and nutrition, whether it be established dietary supplements that already have multiple studies publicising their benefit or new dietary ingredients that have the potential to be ground-breaking. It also requires a concerted effort to ensure consumers have access to these products”.