Some highlights (lowlights?) of the study:
- The high school dropout rate is about 6% higher for those with diabetes compared to those without.
- The lifetime earnings penalty of diabetes, assuming a 40-year working life, is at least $160,000.
- Having a parent with diabetes reduces the likelihood of a child attending college by 4-6%, regardless of the child's health status.
- Having a father with diabetes reduces a child's likelihood of employment at age 30 by about 7%.
The surprising inter-generational effects of diabetes on education and employment seen in this study show that diabetes harms not only the individual sufferer, but also his or her children. Keep in mind that a child with one or two obese parents is 50% and 80% more likely, respectively, to be obese himself and that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes. Together, these data indicate that obesity and diabetes can create a cascade of negative health and financial consequences lasting for generations within a family.
One caveat to this study is that it did not discriminate between Type I and Type II diabetics. While this lumping together of data does leave a bit to be desired methodologically, I doubt if it has any significant implications regarding the study's conclusions. Type I diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder and is not linked to obesity, accounts for only about 5% of all diabetes cases.
If you're interested in reading the study in full, its abstract and access to full text options can be found at http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/31/1/27.abstract.