(KIAH) – Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 37 million Americans have diabetes and face its devastating consequences. What’s true nationwide is also true in Texas. 

The numbers in Texas

A report by the American Diabetes Association said nearly 2.7 million Texans have diagnosed diabetes. Another 7 million Texans, that’s about 34% of the adult population, have prediabetes. But, more than 600,000 have diabetes and don’t even know it.

Biggest risk factor for diabetes

One of the biggest risk factors for diabetes is a high body weight. Central Texas family medicine Dr. John Myers, Baylor Scott & White, often helps patients looking to lower their risk. He tells them to not be intimidated by those gloomy nation-wide statistics.

Even a little personal progress can yield big results.

How to effectively reduce your risk of diabetes

“So for somebody who weighs 200 pounds, losing 10 pounds will decrease their long-term risk of getting diabetes by 60%. So your initial weight, your initial fat cell that you lose come out of your pancreas, come out of your liver, they come out of your organs,” Dr. Myers explained.

But he advised for weight loss to be helpful, you need healthy habits including exercise and diet to help make it permanent. He pointed out losing and then gaining lots of weight can suppress your metabolism, making future weight loss even harder.

For a sustainable approach, he recommends people get with their doctor and come up with a plan that can fit into their existing lifestyle, rather than yo-yo or crash dieting.