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Obesity in Oklahoma

When it comes to obesity, the state of Oklahoma ranks fourth nationwide. A startling distinction that is leading the state's Department of Health to take action.

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Overweight and Obesity in Oklahoma and the US report

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Show 0942: Obesity in Oklahoma

Air date: October 18, 2009



Rob:  Well calorie addiction is cited by the State Department of Health as one of the top causes of death and disease here in Oklahoma.

A fancy name for just being too heavy.

When it comes to obesity, the state of Oklahoma ranks fourth nationwide.  A startling distinction that is leading the state's department of health to take action.

Joining me now from in front of the State Capitol is our Betiel Michaels.

Betiel:  Well Rob, the most obese, it's a title that no state wants but one that the state of Oklahoma has been given by the CDC.  So to help fight the disease, state officials are taking action and hoping Oklahomans do the same.

(reporter donut)

Betiel:  Valerie McBane is stepping on the scales a lot more these days.  She is part of a wellness group trying to lose weight.  Having three children pretty much back to back, because they are nine, seven, and six, there was a lot of being pregnant for a while.  So, you gain a lot of weight sometimes when you're pregnant and so I plan to lose all, if not, you know part if not all of that.

Betiel:  A working mother of three, McBane is like many Oklahomans hoping to shed a few pounds.

Valerie:  Just finding time to fit in a healthy meal in between a busy schedule with three kids and a husband and trying to do everything as you can, there's not enough hours in the day really.

Betiel:  Valerie's story isn't unique, a growing number of Oklahomans fighting the battle of the bulge.  Recent statistics show thirty percent of the state's population is obese.  Landon Norton is a nutrition coordinator with the State Health Department.

Landon:  On the nutrition side I really like that traditional southern diet, so that's kind of been engrained in us, so that's why parents, grandparents, great-grandparents took...

Betiel:  Experts point towards the usual suspects of expanding waistlines, poor food choices and lack of exercise.  Reasons that make the disease not just a health issue, but a question of lifestyle.

Valerie:  Trying to eat enough fruit, drink a lot of water, that's the hard part.

Betiel:  Blame it on our modern day society where more convenient food is everywhere and time, limited.

Landon:  More and more people are grabbing something on the way home from a fast food restaurant establishment to feed their family as opposed to cooking.

Betiel:  In just twenty years, obesity has risen by more than twenty percent in Oklahoma; a trend that doesn't look likely to change by itself.  Some state officials have come up with a plan to help the state scale down.

Landon:  There really needs to be a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency effort at this because it does involve how our society, and our culture here in Oklahoma, functions.

Betiel:  With so many Americans waging a war on weight there may be comfort in numbers.  But it's a comfort that, Valerie for one, is working to lose.

Valerie:  At the end of the day I would just like to be more healthy and get into some clothes that I haven't been able to get into for a while.

Betiel:  Of course all this is happening when health care is at the forefront but one thing's for sure, experts say when it comes to obesity, small steps can make a big difference.

Rob:  So Betiel what is the state's ultimate goal with this health improvement plan?


Betiel:  Well, state officials are hoping to find themselves in good company by 2014.  They're hoping to climb to the top tier of healthy states in the nation.

Rob:  Alright, good story.  Thank you Betiel.