SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Department of Health announced a new campaign to combat prediabetes and diabetes by encouraging individuals to become better educated about warning signs for diabetes and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
The campaign, “Cowboy Up to Prevent,” provides awareness materials to health care professionals along with funding for organizations working on diabetes prevention and management programs, according to WYDOH.
The campaign goal is to decrease cases of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke in Wyoming. Debra Haar, nurse manager with Sheridan County Public Health, said she looks forward to integrating and applying the campaign goals to existing programs in Sheridan County.
About 11% of the adult population in Wyoming has diabetes and more than 35% have prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
More than 9% of Sheridan County adults reported being diagnosed with diabetes, according to the most recent data from the Wyoming Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The campaign is designed to help adults improve their health with confidence and motivation, learn skills to manage their condition and prevent new diabetes diagnoses, according to WYDOH.
Two and a half hours per week of physical activity and healthier eating can decrease body weight — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifestyle change programs cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after 10 years by about one-third.
Compared to the CDC target for healthy people in 2020, Wyoming falls short in many areas of preventative care practice.
Data from 2015 shows nearly 70% of Wyoming adults with diabetes reported receiving two or more A1C blood tests in the past year, a few percentage points short of the CDC target.
About 15% fewer Wyoming adults with diabetes reported receiving a foot exam by a health care professional than the CDC’s target of 74.8%.
People with diabetes who have a lack of feeling in their feet may be unaware of a foot injury and have a more difficult time healing, Haar said.
Ten percent fewer adults reported attending a self-management class than the target and about 5% fewer reported daily self-monitoring of blood glucose.
Each of these are important prevention methods along with annual visits to a physician, Haar said. An A1C blood test provides information a doctor can use to develop a dietary or medical management plan with a patient, she said.
Regular visits can help explain symptoms and empower patients with the information they need to manage their health, Haar said.
Wyoming reported a slightly higher percentage of adults with diabetes who had received a dilated eye exam in the past year, about two percentage points above the target.
Early treatment for prediabetes can return blood sugar levels to normal, according to the ADA. CDC-recognized programs promote lifestyle changes that are intended to reverse or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
People with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by more than half with these programs and by almost three-quarters for those older than 60, according to WYDOH.
The most important thing for a person with diabetes to do is remain educated and informed about their condition, Haar said. Independent research, prevention education and community resources can all be useful tools for managing one’s health.