Oklahoma study hopes monetary incentives will reduce diabetes, obesity among teens

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As obesity continues to plague Oklahoma, one Native American tribe is working toward change.

Over the past several years, there has been a constant rise in obesity rates and type 2 diabetes among American teenagers.

Many of those cases affect Oklahoma's Native American population.

"We have a job in Choctaw Nation to make people's' health, lives healthier," said Tamela Cannady, director of prevention health with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The 'Move' study by the University of Oklahoma is trying to see if incentives will help reduce obesity and diabetes rates among teenagers from the Choctaw Nation.

Over the past year and a half, researchers at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center have been paying teenagers cash to make strides toward a healthier lifestyle.

"Let's focus more on prevention. Isn't the way to treat type 2 diabetes in young people is to attack it before it occurs, preventing it all together?" said Dr. Kenneth Copeland, director of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.

Nearly 30 students have been participating in the 'Move' program in Hugo and Talihina.

"Some of them wouldn't look me in the eye and now they can look me in the eye. They just get more confident," said Mary Ayn Tullier, research study coordinator with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

For every 20 minutes a child in the program is active, they will receive $1.

It is a tiny investment that promotes healthy lifestyle changes.

The study is expected to last around two and a half years with the goal to add about 60 more participants.

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