Cherokee Nation Dietary Program Patients Experience Major Success


Cherokee Nation citizen Kevin Hannah looks on as Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietician Jennifer Newton shows him the fat contained in cheeseburgers and other common meals.

Published June 16, 2017

TAHLEQUAH — Thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens across the 14-county jurisdiction are changing their lives through the tribe’s dietary program.

Offered at all Cherokee Nation health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital, the program helped 6,482 citizens with weight management, high cholesterol, prediabetes and gestational diabetes in fiscal year 2016.

Cherokee Nation citizen Kevin Hannah is a program participant and has lost 100 pounds during his time in the program.

“When I came for the first appointment, I was just fulfilling doctor’s orders and I couldn’t care less about any of it. Meeting with clinical dietitian Jennifer Newton at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee changed my perception, and it changed my life,” Hannah said.

After one year of working with Newton through Cherokee Nation’s dietary program, Hannah, a prediabetic patient, has drastically decreased his weight, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and describes his experience as life-changing.

“I want everyone to know that they can change their lives. I’ve been there. It’s depressing, and talking to someone who cared about me and about my success gave me the motivation to get up and try,” Hannah said. “Desire and information are the keys to success.”

Newton’s focus for her patients is setting small goals and sustainable changes.

“We always start by walking through what they’re already doing and encourage small, gradual changes that they can sustain long term,” Newton said.

Lisa Burton, a dietary patient from the Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata, is experiencing similar success in the program.

“I started back in July and have noticed a big difference in my energy level already,” Burton said. “I have lost 70 pounds, and I plan to keep it up. Having the support and someone to watch over me and make sure I am doing what I am supposed to is making all the difference.”

Patients who seek dietary help from the tribe complete a screening process and are matched with a dietitian to work one-on-one through their eating and exercise needs.

Dietitian Adviser Denise Goss oversees the program through Cherokee Nation health centers. She believes Cherokee Nation dietitians can teach tribal citizens how to make healthy lifestyle choices to enhance their quality of life.

“We provide valuable support by offering frequent follow-up visits and the encouragement and tools needed to reach their goals,” Goss said.

To find a health center near you with the Cherokee Nation’s dietary program, visit

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