OKLAHOMANS are fat, and getting fatter.
That in a nutshell summarizes a report issued this week by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Researchers concluded that 31 percent of Oklahomans are obese. They estimated the total could climb to 66 percent by 2030.
News of our current obesity rate, however, is a dog-bites-man story. In any number of studies through the years, Oklahoma has been rated as one of the most obese states in the country. The obesity rate of our residents has climbed steadily in the past two decades or so.
That climb has translated into soaring numbers of children with Type 2 diabetes, which carries many health risks. That form of diabetes used to be found primarily in adults as they grew sedentary and out of shape. The problem is that too many of our youngsters now fit that description.
This report will surely spur calls in some circles for the state to “do something” to address this problem. But government mandates, such as New York City's ban on large soft drinks, aren't the answer. Instead the solutions must begin in the home, with parents insisting their kids turn off the video games and go outside, or urging them to eat healthier foods.
Bogan Garcia can sell. As a Tiger Cub, Bogan sold $1,500 worth of Boy Scout popcorn. The total climbed to $2,400 as a Wolf Cub. And last year, as a Cub Scout, 10-year-old Bogan sold $4,387 worth of popcorn, more than anyone else in the Last Frontier Council, which comprises about 14,000 Scouts. The secrets to his success are diligence and customer service. Bogan, of Harrah, says he learned that it's important to set a goal and then try to reach it. Look customers in the eye. Give them a good handshake. He also makes sure those who buy the product know where their money is going. And one more thing — delivery includes a handwritten thank-you note. “It's not hard. It's just hard work,” he says. That's an attitude that will serve him well for years to come.
Revisiting August tax totals
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to ... write about state revenue. So we won't let ourselves get off Walter Scott-free for an editorial this week that discussed a big drop in gross production tax revenue during August and the need for the administration to get busy building more liquefied natural gas export facilities. We noted that gross production taxes totaled just $154,000, compared with $36.1 million in August 2011. That prompted one reader to call and point out that his energy company alone wrote a tax check larger than $154,000 last month. We should have spelled out, as the state finance director did in the report we used as the basis of the editorial, that natural gas generated about $14 million in gross production tax revenue, but most of that was eaten up by “refunds and other required distributions.” August was a down month for the state's energy sector, yes. But cataclysmic? No.
The city councils of Tulsa and Oklahoma City held a historic joint session on Sept. 6, two months before Tulsa County voters will decide the fate of a $748.8 million capital improvements plan. At the meeting, the Tulsans sought advice from their Oklahoma City counterparts on how to replicate what three MAPS initiatives have done to enhance the quality of life here. Tulsa is catching up with the capital city in public investments and, unlike MAPS, major capital improvements plans in the Tulsa area are handled countywide rather than citywide. Also of note is that Tulsa County has a model jail while Oklahoma County faces a federal takeover of jail operations unless expensive improvements are made. A countywide initiative is needed to address the jail here. Oklahoma County is nearly alone among counties in this state without a sales tax. Perhaps leaders here could use some advice from Tulsans on how to pass a countywide sales tax measure for the jail.