Oklahoma fares poorly in health report

Oklahoma ranks among the nation's worst in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other factors for poor health, placing the state's health ranking at 46th out of 50. The United Health Foundation gave the state numerous F's and D's in the state's health report card.
BY SONYA COLBERG scolberg@opubco.com Published: September 21, 2011

Oklahoma's total mortality rate is one of the nation's highest, according to the 2011 State of the State's Health Report, released Tuesday.

“Our death rate was 23 percent higher than the national rate, which is staggering,” said Dr. Jenny Alexopulos, a medical doctor and president of the state Board of Health.

More than 36,000 Oklahomans died in 2007, for a rate of 933 deaths per 100,000. Nationally, the rate is 760 deaths.

The state's health report card is full of F's and a few D's in heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes and unintentional deaths. Blacks suffered disproportionally from heart disease and stroke.

The report links most of the poor marks to Oklahomans' lifestyles. Even fewer residents — 14.6 percent — are eating enough fruits and vegetables, and almost as many — 25 percent — are using tobacco as in the previous year.

“Our state is becoming much more obese,” Alexopulos said.

Thirty-two percent of Oklahomans are considered obese, compared to nearly 27 percent nationally.

Oklahoma also has less doctors than other states.

“We're at the bottom of the barrel here. We're the 50th state in the number of primary care physicians,” she said. The rate is 80.3 doctors per 100,000, a deficiency that is most pronounced in rural areas.