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Obesity in Oklahoma

Did you know that 66.4 percent of adults in Oklahoma will be obese by 2030?  That is the prediction according to a new report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), up from 31.1 percent in 2011. What is more astonishing is Oklahoma will be number 2, behind Mississippi as the fattest state in the nation.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, a reminder to parents, children and providers we need to start addressing the issue of overweight and obese children in our community to help prevent debilitating illness like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and depression.

Today 1 in 3 children in Oklahoma are overweight or obese. With this number of the rise, it is easy to see why the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report predicts Oklahoma will be among the fattest states. So what can we do about this?

Parents Are the Example

Of the five independent risk factors identified for childhood obesity, the number one risk factor is parental weight. If a parent is overweight or obese, their child is likely to also be overweight or obese. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of children with an obese parent will become obese. By the time that child is an adolescent, their course for a lifetime of obesity has nearly been set if they are obese in their teen years, regardless of whether their parents are obese or not.

Parents can set the example for healthy eating habits and regular physical activity to help curb the cyclical effect of parent/child obesity. Here are a few suggestions from the American Heart Association for how to make your family healthier:

Be positive: Celebrate successes, encourage healthy eating and habits and make it fun for the whole family.

Do it together as a family: Plan times when the family is being physically active together.

Set Realistic Goals: To make a big change, it starts with sticking to the small ones. Set realistic goals your family can achieve together.

Find Good Rewards: Instead of celebrating success with a treat or extra tv time, find a reward that is in line with your new healthy goals.

Dinnertime = Family time: Eat together as a family. Turn the tv, phones and all electronics off. Have a conversation and eat at a slower pace. Make this a priority as many nights a week as possible.

Read Food Labels Together: Educate your children by helping them to understand what they are eating. This will help both you and them to make the best food choices. Read food labels and know what foods are beyond the daily recommended limit for saturated fats and calories.

Stay Involved: Setting a good example at home is a start, but make sure to stay involved with your child’s food choices when they are at school and with friends. Find out what options are available at school and communicate with other families what food choices you encourage for your children.

Change that is Possible

Putting childhood obesity on a different course is no easy task. Start with the changes you can make today and set goals for your family. Oklahoma does not have to be one of the fattest states in the country.

According to the findings of the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), if we can lower BMIs in Oklahoma by 5 points, more 110,000 people would not develop Type 2 diabetes, more than 92,000 people would be saved from coronary heart disease and 77,000 from high blood pressure. Whether being number 2 or saving more than 110,000 from Type 2 diabetes is your motivation, join the fight against obesity today by starting at home.