I have a very good friend who is a Weight Watcher’s program leader and this week we were talking about how each and every new year, millions of people decide to take control of their own lives, and get fit and healthy. She was sharing how the attendance at her meetings since Tuesday has increased dramatically. One of her meetings had almost 50 people in attendance and all the others had 2-3 times the number of participants she saw during the holiday season.
She said that many of her members had received emails from big box and online retailers, offering specials on exercise equipment, workout videos and weight loss supplements. I have already seen as many commercials on TV for these products as I saw for the presidential candidates.
We know that for many of these people it will be a quick start and then a quick burnout, and back to the unhealthy habits of the year before.
This year we may have a little more incentive to keep our patients on track with their New Year’s resolutions. According to Ken Thorpe, PhD, Health Policy Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, if we could just get these patients to stick to their program we could save 5-10% of Medicare costs. This means that we would have to pay more attention to preventive care, and help our patients succeed.
This is especially true when you see what the latest issue of Diabetes Care estimates the cost of diabetes to be. It is nearly $27,000 over 5 years, without the cost of drugs or co-morbidities, and when we look at Medicare patients the cost skyrockets to over $44,000 for the same 5 year period.
Dave Joffe, Editor-in-chief