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Lifestyle as medicine for type 2 diabetes

Lower costs and significant health benefits • 28 Nov 2016

The number of people with type 2 diabetes is spiralling. Patients are usually treated with medicines, but there is a better alternative: a different lifestyle. Many people could be cured with a change of diet and more exercise. The television programme Hoe word ik 100 [How can I reach 100] by the broadcaster Omroep Max showed how after years of injecting massive quantities of insulin, John and Gelein were able to stop taking the drug within one week thanks to the lifestyle guidance they received.

1 million patients with diabetes 2

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.

Lifestyle as medicine business case

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?

Lower costs and significant health benefits

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.

More information about Lifestyle as a Medicine

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