Wyo. Health Dept. promotes diabetes awareness as rate doubles

— November 19, 2014

[Press release] — In little more than a decade, the adult diabetes rate has almost doubled in Wyoming, leading to new Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) efforts to help limit the disease among Wyoming Medicaid clients and other state residents.

Wyoming’s diabetes rate among adults rose from 4.5 percent in 2001 to 8.6 percent in 2013.

Christine Revere, Chronic Disease Prevention Program manager with WDH, said the unfortunate trend is not surprising when considered along with several risk factors linked with type 2 diabetes. “Our data shows us that 65 percent of Wyoming adults are obese or overweight, 83 percent do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, 25 percent engage in no daily physical activity, and 21 percent smoke cigarettes.”

Revere said uncontrolled diabetes can result in medical difficulties such as blindness (retinopathy), kidney disease and nerve damage (neuropathy).  Diabetes is also an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as well as a leading cause of amputations due to the damage the disease sometimes causes in the feet and legs.

WDH is teaming up with WYhealth to offer Wyoming Medicaid clients with diabetes a new, year-long program called “Choice Rewards.”  Dr. James Bush, Wyoming Medicaid medical director with WDH, said, “With this effort, we are aiming to improve the lives of our clients with diabetes while working to avoid serious complications. This can mean better patient care along with avoiding costly hospital stays.”

The program offers diabetes-focused education, one-on-one support for living with diabetes, as well as tools to help clients learn how to self-manage the disease.  Adult Wyoming Medicaid clients are eligible and can receive a $25 incentive card for every three months of the program they complete.

Bush said WYhealth is also planning a release early next year of a new mobile app for Wyoming Medicaid clients designed to simplify the confusion of managing diabetes with a game-like design.  WYhealth provides a number of healthcare management services for Wyoming Medicaid, which is part of WDH.

Revere said, “While it’s true a family history of diabetes does lead to a greater risk for diabetes, there are simple steps people can take to reduce the likelihood they will develop the disease.”

Steps recommended to help prevent diabetes and its complications include:

  • Be aware of personal risk factors
  • Be physically active – aim for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Eat more complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and pasta; and less refined grains like white/enriched bread and pasta
  • Work with your doctor on preventive measures
  • Manage blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Quit or don’t start using tobacco (quitwyo.org or 1-800-QUIT-NOW)

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