More than 14 percent of Oklahomans suffer from Type 2 diabetes with 52 people diagnosed each day. One in four Oklahomans don’t realize they have the disease and it’s estimated that over one million more Oklahomans are prediabetic and most are unaware of it.
Sen. Frank Simpson will hold an interim study on Tuesday, October 10th at the state Capitol to find ways to better educate the public about this preventable disease as well as decrease the number of Oklahomans suffering from the disease.
Oklahoma ranks 10th in the nation for the percentage of adults diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but having lost a granddaughter to Type 1 diabetes, Simpson is extremely concerned about the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among younger Oklahomans.
“Type 2 diabetes was once a disease limited to seniors but we now see more and more youth and children being diagnosed with Type 2. This is a very disturbing trend. Oklahoma is 4th in the nation in high school obesity, which is one of the major contributors to Type 2 diabetes,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “It’s estimated that in our state, more than 5,000 individuals under the age of 18 will be diagnosed each year with Type 2. At this rate, one in two young people will develop Type 2 in their lifetime. We must fight to protect them by figuring out a way to reverse these disturbing trends.”
Since 1995, the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has increased 227 percent in the state creating a tremendous health burden not only for individuals but the state overall. Type 2 diabetes has a total economic impact on Oklahoma of $3.7 billion annually including medical treatment, hospital stays, lost time from work, etc. There are three amputations per day as a result of diabetes and 24,000 Oklahomans suffer with diabetes-related blindness. One in three patients will have chronic kidney disease and two-thirds of Type 2 diabetics will die of stroke or heart attack.
Contributing factors of the disease include weight, activity level, eating habits, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These factors when managed properly can control Type 2 diabetes or prevent it from developing.
Simpson explained that diabetes self-management programs are effective in controlling the disease but unfortunately are only utilized by four percent of Oklahoma diabetics. He pointed out that if participation was increased to 15 percent, state healthcare costs could be reduced by as much as $3.4 million annually.
Prevention programs are also key to improving health outcomes having been proven to be twice as effective as medication in reducing the conversion to Type 2 diabetes. Such prevention programs are currently utilized by less than one percent of diabetics in the state. It’s estimated that if Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in just 150 Oklahomans, the state could save $12.4 million over ten years.
Simpson said that Oklahoma face many barriers to these programs including lack of physician referrals for patients, lack of convenient locations and reimbursement.
“We must remove barriers to treatment and provide better access to prevention and treatment to stem the tide of Type 2 diabetes in our state,” said Simpson. “The Oklahoma tribes are doing great things and are a model in the treatment and prevention of this disease among their members. Oklahoma must do the same for all our citizens.”
The public meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Room 419C at the state Capitol. The public is welcome to attend or watch the meeting live on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov.