We aren’t doing enough in Oklahoma to combat obesity.

The state moved up the list of states with the highest obesity rates, climbing from 14th to 13th in the report released last week. More than 60 percent of Oklahomans are overweight, ranking the state 22nd in that category, according to the Trust for America’s Health.

We all know some of the reasons for being overweight: a society that cultures a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food. The report also pointed out that the states high on the obesity list also ranked high on the state poverty list.

So Oklahoma can do better in promoting a higher standard of living.

The state Legislature has passed bills requiring healthier choices at school lunches and prohibiting student access to soda and junk food. The Legislature also made physical education a requirement for elementary schoolchildren beginning this year.

But obviously, more is required.

The state and cities can spend more on developing trails in parks and encouraging their use.

Businesses certainly can do more to encourage their employees to exercise and eat better, and it would work to the companies’ benefit by reducing health-related costs. They can organize exercise groups — Japanese companies are noted for them — sponsor sports activities for employees and help assist with the costs of joining health clubs.

But individual Oklahomans must weigh in on resolving this crisis, and it is a crisis. Medical expenses attributed to obesity were estimated at $75 billion for 2003 in the United States, and taxpayers funded about half of those costs through Medicare and Medicaid.

Because maintaining an exercise regimen is difficult, you should team up with a friend or friends to see that you get involved in an aerobic activity three or four times a week.

And according to the 2005 Nielsen report, the average American watched television 4 hours and 32 minutes each day that season, a 12.5 percent increase over the last six years.

If Americans, and Oklahomans, would simply cut back to 1998-1999 levels of television viewing, that would allow them a half hour to exercise every day.

And don’t forget to eat healthy, too.

Overweight facts

• The estimate for obesity-related adult medical expenditures for the total adult population of Oklahoma in 2003 was $854 million.

• In 2005, about one in six Oklahoma high school students were considered at risk of being overweight.

• In 2003, 15.4 percent of Oklahoma children/youth ages 10-17 were overweight.

Source: www.health.state.ok.us/program/cds/obesity%20fact%20sheet.pdf

React to this story:


This Week's Circulars