Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Diabetes's Economic & Educational Toll on Young Adults

The ramifications—medical, nutritional, financial, emotional, intellectual and environmental, to name a few—of our corrupt food supply are widespread. To think that we are not poorer as a society in all of these realms because of the foodstuffs available at supermarkets, restaurants, schools, hospitals and prisons is naïve.

More evidence comes from a study of young diabetic adults by the Yale School of Public Health, just published in Health Affairs and discussed yesterday in The New York Times' Well blog.

According to The Times, the "study shows that young adults with [diabetes] have lower lifetime earnings and fewer job prospects than their peers" and that "[t]hey had lower rates of finishing high school and were less likely to move on to college than young adults who were not diabetic."

In the end, we all pay for this lack of progress. That Gatorade for breakfast may not be as innocent as it seems.

The abstract of the study, from Health Affairs:
"Despite a growing diabetes crisis, the nonmedical implications for young adults have gone virtually unexplored. We investigated the effects of diabetes on two key outcomes for this age group—schooling and earnings—and found that it delivers an increasingly common “health shock” to both. We identified effects in several measures of educational attainment, including a high school dropout rate that was six percentage points higher than among young adults without the disease. We also found lower employment and wages: A person with diabetes can conservatively expect to lose more than $160,000 over his or her working life, compared to a peer without the disease. For young adults with diabetes, having a parent with diabetes also leads to poorer outcomes than if one more parents do not have the disease—for example, reducing the likelihood of attending college by four to six percentage points, even after the child’s health status is controlled for. These results highlight the urgency of attacking this growing health problem, as well as the need for measures such as in-school screening for whether diabetes’s impact on individual learning and performance begins before the classic manifestations of clinical diabetes appear."


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