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In the Netherlands today, almost one million people suffer from type 2 diabetes. This disease has a huge impact on patients' lives. They have to take medicines or inject insulin, are often tired and, in some cases, are no longer able to work. In addition, severe consequences lie ahead in the long term, such as nerve damage, heart and vascular diseases and blindness. Medical costs and the loss of labour productivity mean that type 2 diabetes is a costly burden on society.
Together with the Vintura consultancy, Professor Hanno Pijl (LUMC) and other experts working in healthcare, TNO has created a business case relating to Lifestyle as Medicine for type 2 diabetes. This shows that lifestyle guidance can save society a vast amount of money. If 40% of all patients were to be cured, this would make a difference to the Netherlands of some 2.7 billion euros in medical costs over the next five years! Even if only 10% of patients receive this treatment and the treatment leads to a cure in 40% of cases, this alone would save 270 million euros. The cost saving is much greater if we calculate in the return to work of a number of patients who are currently unemployed due to the disease.
The business case is just one of the elements of the Lifestyle as Medicine programme. TNO is conducting research on personalised help for people with type 2 diabetes: What foods are best for the person in question? Which intervention is the most helpful to him or her? What support can we offer that results in the patient making a lasting change to his or her lifestyle?
As this shows, TNO is bringing a range of expertise to its work on Lifestyle as Medicine for type 2 diabetes. The future lies with this form of healthcare. It saves society a great deal of money. And, more importantly, for patients it can lead to a healthier and happier life, one free of medicines.
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