The number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double by 2034 and diabetes spending will nearly triple to $336 billion, even if the prevalence of obesity in the country remains stable, according to a new study.

A team of researchers led by the University of Chicago, have put together a model of diabetes costs which has been published in the Diabetes Care journal. They have looked at trends in risk factors (such as obesity), “the natural history of the disease and the effects of treatments”, all of which, they claim, “helped to improve upon forecasts previously used by government budget analysts”.

The study concluded that, over the next 25 years, the number of Americans with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes would leap from 23.7 million to 44.1 million. During the same period, annual spending related to the disease would climb from $113 billion to $336 billion and for those who would be covered by Medicare, prevalence would rise from 8.2 million Americans to 14.6 million; associated spending would jump from $45 billion to $171 billion.

The analysis takes into consideration “constant changes in the diabetes population over time”, such as the aging of the baby boomer generation and recent increase in the incidence of obesity rates in the USA. It also looks at “the natural progression of the disease, such as the development of complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, circulatory and nervous systems”.

The researchers said that the model was built “to improve the budgetary and health outcome information available to federal policymakers”. They add that “without significant changes in public or private strategies, this population and cost growth are expected to add a significant strain to an overburdened health care system”.

It is estimated that about 11% of adults in the USA have diabetes.