A combination of a diabetic diet and metformin may be a cost-effective way to treat individuals with pre-diabetes

Due to the growing prevalence of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes in the U.S., many medical experts have investigated ways to help reduce the financial burden that this trend places on the country's healthcare system.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25 million Americans have diabetes, and only 5 percent of these individuals have type 1 diabetes. Moreover, an estimated 79 million people have pre-diabetes, meaning that their blood glucose levels are borderline diabetic.

The organization reports that the total annual cost of diagnosed diabetes is $174 billion. The average yearly medical expenses for individuals who have the chronic condition are about 2.3 times more than those for non-diabetics.

However, there may be a preventive way to treat patients who have pre-diabetes and help save money in the long run.

A recent article published by Reuters cited a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, which found that a low-cost generic diabetes medication called metformin, in combination with a diabetic diet, may successfully help individuals with pre-diabetes avoid type 2 diabetes and pose less of a financial burden than equally effective diabetes treatments like patient-specific exercise programs or brand name drugs.

The news provider explained that the researchers compared the cost of the two different preventive regimens to the medical expenses associated with type 2 diabetes over the course of 10 years.

The study's results showed that the metformin and diabetic diet plan saved $30, while the tailored exercise and weight loss program cost $1,500 per person.

Furthermore, the generic drug, which helps lower blood sugar levels, was found to reduce the patients' odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 18 percent, and lifestyle changes decreased these chances by 34 percent, the news source reported.

The researchers said that this treatment regimen should be more widely used, since it is effective for both improving individuals' health and saving money.

A diabetic diet for people who have pre-diabetes and want to avoid developing type 2 diabetes should limit their intake of sugar, saturated fats, alcohol and tobacco.