Kids with diabetes

Nick Boyce, 12, of Pinedale, checks his blood sugar Saturday during a lunch break in 2017. A new Wyoming Department of Health program aims to combat diabetes around the state.

Many Wyomingites have diabetes — 39,000, to be specific.

That’s according to 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System estimates, and 35,000 have been diagnosed with prediabetes, a condition in which higher than normal blood glucose levels may lead to Type 2 diabetes. By that measure, almost 13% of people in the state either have or are at risk for diabetes, and the Wyoming Department of Health is promoting a new campaign to combat the disease.

Nearly 10% of the U.S. population, roughly 30 million people, have diabetes. Unlike other chronic diseases, diabetes “is managed mostly by you, with support from your health care team,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says.

Diabetes is the inability of the body to regulate blood sugar. Type 1 often shows up early in life, though adults can develop it as well. With Type 1, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, so patients must regulate their insulin levels to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Type 2 used to be called “adult-onset diabetes,” a nod to the fact that it usually arises in adulthood, though more children are developing it, according to the CDC. The body begins to resist insulin or stop producing enough of it.

While Type 1 is usually caused by genetics or a virus, Type 2 is most often related to lifestyle choices, namely poor diet and lack of exercise.

The Health Department’s “Cowboy Up to Prevent” program aims to help people improve their lifestyle by allowing them to participate for free in the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, which promotes healthy eating and exercise.

CDC data say that adults with prediabetes can lower their risk by 58% by participating in the program, and that number is 71% for those over 60. See the agency’s website, CDC.gov, for details.

“Keeping diabetes under control can improve the quality of life, and that’s exactly what we want,” the Health Department’s Dr. Alexia Harrist said.

Those who are interested in taking an online prediabetes exam can visit DoIHavePrediabetes.com. The short quiz will ask you questions about risk factors, including family history, diet and exercise. The Health Department recommends that anyone who scores highly on the exam see their health care provider for a blood sugar screening.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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