OKLAHOMA CITY (KNWA/KFTA) — Oklahoma health officials released a state plan Tuesday, July 19 aimed to reduce obesity in the state.

According to a press release from the State Department of Health, over the last two decades, many states have seen a steady rise in obesity rates, including Oklahoma. Across the nation, 31.9% of the adult population is considered obese compared to 36.4% of adults in Oklahoma, which equates to approximately one million adults in our state’s population having obesity.

In 2019, the OSDH engaged in a year-long process, bringing to the table partners from across the state to develop a State Obesity Plan.

“The plan focuses on strategies for each age group which can make a direct impact on the environment contributing to chronic health conditions, with a particular focus on obesity,” said Fahad Khan, Director of Community Analysis. “While the plan was coordinated by OSDH, it will take all partners working together to accomplish the goals and objectives set forth to achieve Governor Kevin Stitt’s goal of being a top 10 state.”

Health officials say while personal responsibility will always be a component of weight management, the plan aims to identify environmental changes which will make it easier for all Oklahomans to choose to be healthier, and to encourage healthy habits and behaviors.

The plan also aims to put resources and education in the hands of Oklahomans so the decisions they make can be well informed but also supported by the environment in which they live.

The OSDH says the plan is important now more than ever as emerging data suggests the COVID-19 pandemic worsened underlying social, economic, and environmental barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. Those factors consequently resulted in many Americans, including Oklahomans, likely gaining weight during the pandemic, OSDH says.

“The increased obesity rate is alarming for Oklahomans as individuals and as a state for a number of reasons,” said Khan. “Obesity can increase the likelihood of other chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke and some types of cancer. At the state level, a higher prevalence of obesity and other related conditions leads to an increase in medical spending exceeding $1 billion a year.

To view the state’s plan, click here. For more information about obesity, visit www.health.ok.gov.