BOSTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Diabetes leads to a loss of 2.3-6.8 life-years and costs between $14,768 and $159,081 over a lifetime, depending on age, sex, race, and body mass index, according to National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data.

The average number of life-years lost was greater for women than for men, and was greater for blacks than for whites (average of 5.2 for black women vs. 5.0 years for white women, and 4.8 for black men vs. 4.6 for white men). Life-years lost increased with BMI category for most of the age-sex-race combinations evaluated, Man Yee (Mallory) Leung, Ph.D., reported at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association. The lifetime costs were higher for men than for women ($93,957 vs. $81,521), and an inverted U-shape was noted across BMI categories for most of the age/sex/race groups, with peaks at the Class II obesity category, said Dr. Leung of Washington University, St. Louis.

Dr. Leung and her colleagues used data from the 2009-2012 NHIS (the most recently available data), and linked to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for their analysis. The NHIS Linked Mortality Public-Use Files were used to predict mortality risk.

The sample was divided into groups with different combinations of race, sex, age, and BMI categories, and life expectancies and lifetime health care expenditures for diabetic patients and nondiabetic patients were simulated, she explained, noting that all estimates were adjusted for complex sampling design in the NHIS and MEPS.

The findings underscore the huge economic burden of diabetes on society, and further define the associated life years lost as a result of the disease, she said.

This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes of Health, as well as by grants to one of the authors from the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Dr. Leung reported having no conflicts of interest.