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PCRM Informs Governors of Financial Costs of Diabetes

America’s growing diabetes epidemic is taking its toll in more ways than one: We are paying the price of poor nutrition with not only deteriorating health but with dramatically rising health care costs. PCRM wrote to the governors of several states to spread awareness that a low-fat vegan diet can greatly reduce the cost of diabetes-related medications.

Neal Barnard, M.D.While Dr. Neal Barnard is touring the country to introduce people to his life-saving message, PCRM wants the governor of each state Dr. Barnard visits to learn about the program, too. The letters from PCRM underscore that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecasts that one in three children born in recent years will develop diabetes within their lifetime, which could become a crippling burden for the health care system unless changes are implemented now.

A typical medication regimen costs between $2,000 and $6,000 per person annually, depending on the medications used. Medical examinations and treatments, diagnostic tests, supplies, time lost from work, and disability expenditures add additional costs. Multiplying this annual individual cost by the number of Americans currently diagnosed with the disease (approximately 15 million) shows the scope of the financial problem.

However, the new dietary approach outlined in Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes has effects similar to those of medications commonly used in diabetes treatment but without their costs. The book is based on a 2006 study funded by the National Institutes of Health, which found that a low-fat vegan diet treats type 2 diabetes more effectively than a standard diabetes diet and may be more effective than single-agent therapy with oral diabetes drugs.

PCRM’s analysis found that this sort of diet change can help a typical person with diabetes reduce medication costs by anywhere from about $130 to over $3,000 annually, depending on the types of medications used and the degree of success achieved with diet. PCRM has asked each governor to “encourage schools and businesses to offer this sort of meal plan as an option for those who may wish to choose it, and to encourage individuals and families to understand the potential benefits they and their children might achieve from healthful diet choices.”

For more information on Dr. Barnard’s program, please visit

View the medication cost analysis. (PDF)

PCRM Online, February 2007

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