The global economic burden of diabetes was estimated to be $1.31 trillion in 2015, with nearly 35% the result of indirect costs, such as labor force dropout due to morbidity and mortality, according to an analysis of WHO data.
“Our indirect cost estimates suggest that not only direct health care expenditure, but also missed production opportunities due to diabetes pose an enormous economic burden for the world economy: These missed production opportunities amount to 0.6% of world [gross domestic product],” Christian Bommer, MA, an economist with the University of Göttingen, and colleagues wrote. “Therefore, a large potential payoff exists for societies when resources are invested into the reduction of indirect costs.”
Bommer and colleagues analyzed epidemiologic and economic data for 184 countries to estimate the global economic burden of diabetes, regardless of diabetes type. Direct costs were derived using a top-down approach, based on WHO general health expenditure figures and prevalence data from the 2015 International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas. Indirect costs were assessed using a human-capital approach, including diabetes-associated morbidity and premature mortality, according to the researchers. Causes included labor-force dropout, absenteeism and presenteeism due to morbidity and mortality. The worldwide prevalence of diabetes in adults was 8.8% in 2015.
Researchers estimated the global burden of diabetes to be $1.31 trillion (95% CI, 1.28-1.36), or approximately 1.8% of world GDP. Researchers attributed 34.7% of that amount to the indirect costs of diabetes, varying from 40% in high-income countries to 33.5% in low-income and middle-income countries. Labor-force dropout (48.5%) and mortality (45.5%) were the greatest contributors to indirect costs, followed by absenteeism (3.9%) and presenteeism (2.1%).
“Notably, morbidity-associated factors dominate in [high-income countries], whereas middle-income countries and especially low-income countries incur most of the indirect burden from premature mortality,” the researchers wrote.
North America was the most affected region relative to GDP and the largest contributor to global absolute costs, according to the researchers; however, on average, the economic burden as percentage of GDP was larger in middle-income vs. high-income countries.
“Type 2 diabetes is often seen as a disease of affluence,” Bommer said in a press release. “The fact that the prevalence of diabetes in countries such as India and China is approaching European levels is something many people are not aware of.” – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.