Nearly one-third of adults in Oklahoma are obese, according to figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Oklahoma is the sixth-most obese state in the country.
Colorado had the lowest adult obesity rate, just less than 21 percent, and Mississippi had the highest, nearly 36 percent.
A state Health Department official expressed disappointment at Oklahoma's 31.1 percent rate but said he is not surprised with the latest numbers.
“We're certainly not satisfied that our obesity prevalence is this high,” said Keith Reed, director of the department's Center for the Advancement of Wellness. “It tells me that we've got a lot of work to do to create a more physically active state.”
The center focuses on increasing physical activity and improving nutrition, along with decreasing tobacco use.
At least 30 percent of adults are obese in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (29.5 percent), followed by the Midwest (29 percent), the Northeast (25.3 percent) and the West (24.3 percent).
The latest figures are based on a 2011 telephone survey that asked adults their height and weight. For the first time, households with only cellphones were included.
Because of changes in CDC survey methods, it is difficult, if not impossible, to compare the data with previous years, Reed said.
Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
“We know that those types of chronic diseases take a significant personal toll on individuals and families, as well as a significant financial toll on Oklahoma's health care system,” Reed said.
‘Changing the culture'
Despite the discouraging news, Oklahomans like Paul Lundsford are taking to steps to lose weight through diet and exercise.
Lundsford, 31, of Moore, has lost 70 pounds since October, mostly by cutting out fast food and working out five times a week.
Instead of potato chips, Lunsford snacks on Greek yogurt. He runs, lifts weights and takes aerobic classes at the Earlywine YMCA, where he works in membership services.
“Once I started, I just wanted to keep going,” he said. “I feel much better about myself.”
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett struggled for years with a weight problem before dropping 40 pounds and introducing a citywide initiative to lose 1 million pounds.
Four years later, the mayor reached his goal, with 47,000 people losing more than 20 pounds each.
“I think Oklahoma City is doing better,” Cornett said. “The state statistics are disappointing to me and everybody else around, but I think Oklahoma City is helping the state's statistics.”
Once listed as one of the nation's fattest cities by Men's Fitness Magazine, Oklahoma City ranked No. 23 on the list of America's fittest cities in the March issue of the magazine.
“Our per capita income is going up, and I think that's naturally improving health statistics,” Cornett said. “We're changing the culture of the city with awareness and infrastructure that we feel will lead to better results down the line.”
The Associated Press