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Oklahoma a Top-10 State — for Obesity

Trust for America's Health

Oklahoma has one of the nation's highest obesity rates, according to a new report from the Trust for America's Health.

"You’re 10th in the nation. Your rate is 34.8%. We are at historic rates of obesity nationwide, and Oklahoma’s obesity rate is as high as it’s ever been," said TFAH Director of Policy Research Rhea Farberman.

Oklahoma was actually above 35% in 2017 but dipped back down last year. Oklahoma’s obesity rates have increased overall, however, over the past five years.

In different age groups, 24% of Oklahomans ages 18 to 24 are obese, 37% of those 24 to 44, 40% of those 45 to 64 years old, and 29% of those 65 and up.

Rates also vary depending on the color of someone’s skin.

"In Oklahoma, your rate of adult obesity among whites is 34%, but your rate among Hispanics living in the state is 37% and the rate of adult obesity for blacks in the state is 40%," Farberman said.

Farberman said policymakers can help by ensuring all communities have equitable access to transportation, healthy food choices, health care and parks.

Steps could include committing to programs like Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School.

"Both of those programs put an emphasis on built environment that includes pedestrian safety. Safe places for kids to walk to school or kids to take their bicycle to school or people to walk to the store, walk to work, walk for exercise," Farberman said.

Obesity increases the risk of a range of diseases for adults, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, depression, sleep apnea, liver disease, kidney disease, gallbladder disease, pregnancy complications and many types of cancer. People who are obese have an overall risk of higher death.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.