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Oklahoma ranks No. 44 in overall health

Oklahoma saw an improvement in its national ranking, despite changes in methodology in how a national report on health is calculated.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: December 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm •  Published: December 10, 2013

Oklahoma ranks No. 44 in overall health, according to an annual nationwide rankings report.

At first glance, the ranking — provided through United Health Foundation's annual survey — looks like a drop in the state's score.

Last year, state leaders hailed Oklahoma's No. 43 ranking as a success, proof that the state's health initiatives were working. It was the highest ranking the state had received in eight years.

However, over the past year, United Health Foundation's analysts changed what data they include in the report and re-evaluated each state's ranking.

For example, the report now includes each state's drug overdose rates, an area where Oklahoma ranks poorly. This was the primary reason Oklahoma's 2012 ranking dropped to No. 46, meaning the state's ranking did improve from 2012 to 2013, said Tom Eckstein, the principal author of the report.

Dr. Terry Cline, the state's health commissioner, said in a statement that the department is concerned the changes in methodology will be confusing to many Oklahomans.

“What is important to note is that issues which contribute to public health outcomes can be complicated and multifaceted, and difficult to reduce to a single overall ranking that provides a comprehensive assessment of the health of the state,” Cline said.

Bad news ...

Despite the disgruntlements over the changes in methodology, the report does provide an overall picture of where Oklahoma stands among other states in residents' health.

Obesity remains high in Oklahoma, with 32 percent of adults who are obese, an estimated 875,000 adult residents. Additionally, many Oklahoma adults are physically inactive, 28 percent of adults equaling about 770,000 residents.

Oklahoma had the highest percentage change in the nation for its rate of children in poverty. Since last year's report, the state saw its poverty rate among children increase almost 7 percentage points.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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