Oklahoma ranked sixth-worst for obesity rates
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
8/14/12 at 7:21 AM
Oklahoma is the sixth-worst state for obesity rates, with nearly one in three residents qualifying as obese, according to new data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control.
The rate for Oklahoma is 31.1 percent. It is one of 12 states higher than 30 percent, according to the numbers from an annual survey.
"We're not satisfied with the number," said Keith Reed, director of the center for the advancement of wellness at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "We know that we've got a lot of work to do in Oklahoma."
It is an increase from 30.4 percent last year, but the CDC cautioned that changes in the way the survey is completed, like the addition of homes with only a cell phone, make comparisons inaccurate.
The worst state was Mississippi, with 34.9 percent. The best state was Colorado, with 20.7 percent.
It's important to look at obesity rates, because obesity often leads to other chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Treating all of these conditions increases the overall amount spent on medical care, said John Schumann, associate professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine.
One of the factors that likely contributes to obesity in cities like Tulsa is a lack of sidewalks, buses and bike lanes that can incorporate physical activity into a person's routine, he said.
Many cities around the country are instead built around the car, he said.
Lack of access to health care also contributes to the problem in Oklahoma. So does poor access to inexpensive healthy foods and easy access to empty calories, Schumann said.
As part of the effort to combat obesity, more businesses are establishing wellness programs and individuals are using smart phone applications that can track calories and exercise, he said.
"That kind of stuff is exciting," he said.
Reed said the state health department is working with local coalitions, schools and businesses to encourage Oklahomans to eat better and exercise more.
Small efforts at the local level can lead to a large impact, he said.
"It's something that has developed over time, and it will take some time to bring it down," he said.
State obesity rates
1. Mississippi: 34.9 percent
2. Louisiana: 33.4 percent
3. West Virginia: 32.4 percent
4. Alabama: 32 percent
5. Michigan: 31.3 percent
47. District of Columbia: 23.7 percent
47. New Jersey: 23.7 percent
49. Massachusetts: 22.7 percent
50. Hawaii: 21.8 percent
51. Colorado: 20.7 percent
Original Print Headline: Oklahoma sixth-worst in obesity
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378