The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 11, 2012

State health ranking improves to 43rd

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Oklahomans are making progress in improving their health, according to a report released Tuesday.

United Health Foundation’s annual “America’s Health Rankings” report ranked Oklahoma 43rd in the nation for overall health in 2012, an improvement from 48th in the nation last year and 49th overall in 2010.

In a press release, Gov. Mary Fallin said the report shows Oklahoma is headed in the right direction.

“Today’s rankings show that our efforts to increase access to health care, reduce infant mortality and promote healthy living in schools and work places are working. Oklahoma is moving in the right direction, getting people better care with better outcomes,” Fallin said.

“Health is such an important issue in Oklahoma because it affects both our quality of life and our economy. For families, poor health can mean personal tragedy and medical bills that break the bank. For businesses, it means lower workforce productivity. That’s why it’s so important to continue this forward momentum.”

Fallin thanked Oklahomans “who are working hard to get in shape, eat right, quit smoking, or teaching healthy living habits to their children.”

“These are the kind of choices and behaviors that will ultimately make the most difference as we work together to improve the health of our state,” Fallin said.

“This year’s report marks a significant and dramatic improvement that we don’t take lightly,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “We recognize and support opportunities occurring within communities, businesses, organizations, faith-based groups and others in the private sector that help make the healthy choice the easy choice and ultimately improve the health status of all Oklahomans.”

Oklahoma showed improvement in infant mortality rate, immunization coverage for children, incidence of infectious diseases, a reduction in uninsured adults and improvement in the percentage of children living in poverty.

Garfield County Health Department health educator Maggie Jackson said Tuesday’s report also was good news at the local level.

“Whatever is going on with the entire state is a pretty good indicator of what is happening here in Garfield County,” Jackson said. “That we’re improving as a state is a good indicator that we’re also improving here in Garfield County, and it shows some of the strategies we’re using in Oklahoma are working.”

But, the news in Tuesday’s report wasn’t all good for Oklahoma or Garfield County.

Oklahoma still ranks 47th in the nation for smoking, with more than 26 percent of adults in the state reporting they smoke regularly.

Obesity also continues to be a major downside to the state’s overall health, though the obesity rate has seen a modest decline in the past two years after more than 20 years of steady increases.

Oklahoma currently ranks 45th in the nation for obesity rate, with 31.1 percent of the state’s adults having a body mass index of 30 or higher.

Other negatives on the state’s 2012 health report included the high prevalence of sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, limited availability of primary care physicians and a high rate of cardiovascular disease deaths.

Garfield County Health Department staff continue to build strategies to address these health issues through the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership (MAPP) process.

For information on America’s Health Rankings or to view the entire report, go to www.americashealthrankings.org.