In this policy brief NEHI reviews recent developments in the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Despite some encouraging developments in both prevention and treatment options, the health consequences of obesity and type 2 diabetes are uncontrolled and growing. Without effective and urgent action poor health outcomes linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes may reverse important gains in cardiovascular health, accelerate declines in U.S. life expectancy and make ongoing health care reforms more difficult to sustain.
NEHI identifies six key developments for public-policy makers:
- The obesity health crisis, which began 40 years ago, is now a global phenomenon.
- “Chemistry, not character”: Despite growing evidence on the genetic and environmental drivers of obesity, the social stigma of obesity remains a major impediment to action.
- There is strong consensus that addressing social determinants of health is key to achieving and sustaining healthy weight among individuals at risk. But whether this is financed through public health programs or from within the health care system is still an open question.
- Clinical experts are making a stronger case for medical treatment of obesity among patients at high-risk.
- Emerging clinical practice also favors greater use of non-insulin medications among persons with type 2 diabetes because these medications do not induce weight gain, and they reduce risks of cardiovascular disease.
- New tools and techniques of population health management could offset the costs associated with more intensive prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Active experimentation is needed to demonstrate how to target new spending towards individuals at highest risk.
NEHI’s analysis is an outgrowth of discussions it generated among leading patient advocates, clinicians, health insurance leaders, biopharma experts, and others. For more information, please contact Tom Hubbard, NEHI Vice President of Policy Research, at firstname.lastname@example.org.