The medical cost of diabetes in Oklahoma is estimated to be about $3 billion, according to the state Health Department.
Rate is high
Diabetes is especially high among Oklahoma's minority populations.
About 15 percent of American Indian adults in Oklahoma and about 15 percent of black residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the state Health Department.
Copeland said many researchers are studying why minority populations have high rates of diabetes.
Some studies have pointed to the possibility of a genetic predisposition that makes some minorities at risk for obesity, and thus, a higher risk of diabetes. For now, a healthy diet and exercise are thought to be the best ways to prevent diabetes among all groups.
Many American Indian tribes have worked to increase access to diabetes care for their tribe members, said L. Carson Henderson, project coordinator at American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center at the University of Oklahoma.
“The tribes, especially in Oklahoma, are fabulous in the efforts they've made and the inroads they've made in diabetes care and in providing diabetes wellness centers,” Henderson said.
“They've done their part. The tribes are right on it.”