Wyoming’s state health officer, Dr. Wendy Braund, is encouraging state residents who have diabetes or who are at risk of the disease, to recognize how important lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and active living can be for good health.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), in 2012, 9.1 percent of Wyoming adults reported having been told they have diabetes, which translates to roughly 40,000 people. Braund says complications of diabetes can include: 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.

Braund says a family history of diabetes does lead to a greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Another primary risk factor for diabetes is being overweight or obese. Other risk factors include age, race, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Braund says for people living with diabetes or who are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, small, but important steps can have a huge impact on both short- and long-term health. Braund says losing just 5-7 percent of your weight can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes and can help those with the disease avoid serious complications. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that’s just 10-14 pounds.