CN Diabetes Prevention Program earns CDC recognition

02/22/2019 02:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
People of all ages take part in a walk in this 2012 walk at Camp Heart of the Hills in Welling as part of the Cherokee Nation’s annual Diabetes Prevention Program retreat. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Diabetes Prevention Program is receiving national recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its efforts aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is the first tribal program in Oklahoma and one of only 10 total programs in the state to have received CDC full-recognition status, a designation reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality evidence-based program that meets CDC recognition standards.

“Cherokee Nation’s Diabetes Prevention Program has set a national precedent. Other health services often turn to us as a model when developing their own prevention programs to address this epidemic,” Dr. Stephen Jones, CN Health Services acting executive director, said. “We are extremely proud of the progress our program continues to make. We know we are educating our citizens in ways that encourage healthier lifestyles, and as a result we are saving lives. I’m proud of the Diabetes Prevention Program for being a leader on the state and national levels.”

Health Services, which operates W.W. Hastings Hospital and eight health centers, treats about 10,000 diabetes patients per year. Patients who are diagnosed with prediabetes, who have a high risk for prediabetes or who have a history of gestational prediabetes may be referred to the tribe’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

Since 2017, 293 participants have taken part in Healthy Native classes offered by the Diabetes Prevention Program. The classes encourage participants to focus on weight loss to prevent diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Participants attend weekly, bi-weekly and monthly sessions at one of nine sites throughout the tribe’s 14-county area.

“The Cherokee Nation is at the forefront of diabetes prevention,” Tonya Wapskineh, Diabetes Prevention Program coordinator, said. “The work we’ve accomplished proves that diabetes prevention programs work. We’re helping not only smaller tribes but non-Native organizations like YMCAs and hospitals who want to offer similar preventative programs in their own capacities. Being recognized by the CDC shows we’re still doing successful work. We’ve been told by many participants that we are changing their lives.”

Those participating in the program since 2017 have lost a total of nearly 1,300 pounds, and participants finishing the program have experienced an average weight loss of 6.6 percent after a year.

Ann Albright, CDC director of the Division of Diabetes Translation, said the CN program is making an invaluable contribution throughout the tribe’s jurisdiction and the nation.

“As the director of the Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program, it is immensely gratifying to see the science of diabetes prevention being implemented to improve the public’s health,” Albright said. “It is programs like yours that are turning the tide in the fight against the epidemic of type 2 diabetes.”

To learn more about Healthy Natives diabetes prevention classes in Muskogee and Stilwell, email For details on classes in Jay, Kenwood, Salina, Claremore and Tahlequah, email For information on classes in Vinita, call the Vinita Health Center at 918-256-4800.


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