As a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I ask a lot of questions, especially to new clients. And over the years of asking these questions one question stands out because 96% of the time, it’s answered the same way.

Me: “What would be your number one reason for not being able to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise?” 

Clients: “I can’t or won’t be able to afford it.” 

The answer always breaks my heart, and it also infuriates me because our school systems and government do a poor job at teaching us about the importance of adhering to a healthy lifestyle. They also don’t explain just how expensive it is to be sick. And don’t get me started on why a party-sized bag of Doritos is just a few dollars, but a head of cauliflower is $5.99 and it’s not even organic. 

So here’s the truth: In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, the price we pay for poor health extends beyond physical and emotional tolls. A rising concern is the staggering financial burden faced by individuals battling chronic diseases. Among the many chronic conditions affecting Americans, diabetes and heart disease stand out as two leading causes of concern. Let’s dive right into the average yearly costs associated with these illnesses and explore how lifestyle changes can make a significant difference.

Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels, affects over 34 million Americans. Apart from its impact on quality of life, the financial implications of diabetes are substantial. According to an average taken from studies published in the American Journal of Medicine, an individual with diabetes incurs yearly expenses totaling some $9,601. This hefty price tag includes various factors, including prescription costs, doctor visits and missed work days.

Prescription medications for diabetes management can quickly add up, accounting for a significant portion of the annual expenses. Depending on the specific treatment plan and insurance coverage, individuals with diabetes may spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on medications alone. Insulin, a crucial component for many diabetics, has seen a steady rise in price in recent years, putting additional strain on those managing the condition.

Regular visits to health care professionals are essential for proper diabetes management, but they also come at a cost. Consultations with primary care physicians, endocrinologists and other specialists contribute to the overall financial burden. Co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses can accumulate, making regular check-ups a costly affair.

Furthermore, the impact of diabetes on productivity cannot be overlooked. The condition often leads to missed workdays or reduced productivity due to health-related complications. On average, individuals with diabetes miss about 8.8 days of work per year, resulting in lost wages and potential career setbacks.

Similarly, heart disease poses a significant financial burden on individuals and the healthcare system as a whole. With some 655,000 Americans dying from heart disease each year, it is crucial to address the economic repercussions. American Journal of Medicine studies point to an average yearly cost of heart disease for an American of $20,342, encompassing medical expenses and lost productivity.

And just like diabetes, the prescription costs for heart disease management are staggering. Frequent doctor visits, cardiac tests and procedures further escalate the costs associated with heart disease. Cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and other healthcare professionals play a crucial role in diagnosing and managing the condition. However, these necessary medical interventions come not only at a cost, but are a total time suck. And we all know “time is money.” 

With all the appointments and actually feeling like total crap, heart disease often leads to missed workdays or reduced productivity. The physical limitations and recovery periods associated with heart-related events, such as heart attacks or surgeries, often result in extended time away from work. On average, individuals with heart disease miss 7.5 workdays per year. 

Diabetes and heart disease are just two examples among many chronic conditions that can sometimes be mitigated or entirely prevented through lifestyle modifications. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of these diseases. By adopting healthier habits, individuals can potentially avoid the exorbitant costs associated with managing these chronic conditions.

So now that you know what you know, I’m going to ask you: 

What would be your number one reason for not being able to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise plan? 

Jennifer Boltz-Harvey is the owner and operator of Highly Motivated Functionally Caffeinated, LLC, a concierge personal training and nutrition coaching business in the Keys. Her passions include helping people reach their health goals as well as working out, cooking and traveling with her husband. She also really loves snuggles from her dog, Stella.