ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death for Americans in 2015.
Mercy Hospital in Ardmore is looking to educate people about the disease so they can live with it or prevent it altogether.
Saturday's Diabetes Management and Prevention conference was open to anyone who wanted to learn.
Ardmore resident Jeremiah Lewis was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years ago and said Mercy has helped him cope with the disease.
"I hadn't been able to keep it under control," Lewis said. "But, since I came to the classes and everything, it's helped me. I figured I would come here and see what everything is about."
The conference included information about medications and food choices, even cooking demonstrations.
The International Diabetes Federation says 80 percent of type 2 diabetes cases are preventable through adoption of a healthy lifestyle.
Hillary Kotwal with Mercy Diabetes Center said she hopes the conference encourages people to take steps toward that healthier lifestyle.
"Education doesn't necessarily mean behavior," Kotwal said. "That's what we talk about during this conference. We really hope small behavior changes will lead to a healthier and longer life."
She said during the holiday season, eating healthy can be a challenge, especially for people who have to monitor their blood sugar levels.
However, it can be easier with proper planning.
"Sometimes we can eat before we go to our gatherings," she said. "We can bring healthy food to our gatherings. We can make sure we get physical exercise after we eat a big turkey dinner."
Mercy Hospital Ardmore offers a variety of classes for treatment and self-management of diabetes. Call 580-220-6764 for more information.