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Panel eyes Oklahoma’s low life expectancy

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: November 13, 2009 at 8:09 am •  Published: November 13, 2009
Oklahomans have a life expectancy 10 years less than those in the rest of the country, and a big factor for that is poor health choices, a House committee was told Thursday.

Jan Figart, associate director of the Community Service Council in Tulsa, said Oklahoma and Colorado are the only states that don’t have a systematic health education curriculum in public schools.

Oklahoma’s life expectancy for women is 72, compared with 82 in other regions of the country, Figart said.

For men, Oklahomans’ life expectancy is 66, compared with 76 nationally.

Figart said the state might as well put up a sign that says, "Come to Oklahoma and die.”

Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, chairman of the House Common Education Committee, called the statistics "absolutely horrifying.”

What was suggested?
Figart suggested Oklahoma follow Michigan’s example and set up a health curriculum for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Courses would include social and emotional health issues, as well as nutrition and physical activity.

"It’s a curriculum that is a part of the entire education process,” she said.

Coody said she will try during the next legislative session to get House Bill 1530 passed, which would require one semester of health instruction in either the sixth, seventh or eighth grades.


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