The Norman Transcript

Editorials

June 18, 2014

A long way from honor roll

NORMAN — The latest report on Oklahoma’s health isn’t likely to make anyone feel very good.

Measured against the rest of the nation, Oklahoma scored a C or below in every health category except influenza and pneumonia vaccinations for seniors. In the other 34 categories, Oklahoma brought home eight C’s, 17 D’s and nine F’s.

The report showed that Oklahoma has the fourth-highest death rate in the nation, 23 percent higher than the national rate. And although the state’s mortality rate dropped 5 percent since 1992, the national rate dropped 20 percent in the same time.

Oklahoma has the highest respiratory disease mortality rate, the fourth-highest death rate from diabetes, the fourth-highest death rate from stroke, the third-highest from heart disease and the 12th-highest from cancer.

It’s not hard to understand why the numbers are so bad. Oklahoma has the next-to-lowest rate of fruit consumption in the nation; it places 44th in vegetable consumption and 44th in physical activity, and has the sixth-highest obesity rate.

Even worse, about one-fourth of them are having a cigarette after a meal, a rate 25 percent greater than the national average.

Smoking kills more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined and costs taxpayers an estimated $1.16 billion per year in related health care. It also contributes to Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate, the 43rd worst in the U.S. More than 85 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking. Thirty percent of cancer deaths are from lung cancer; 75 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking.

There were some bright spots, thanks to programs such as Certified Healthy Oklahoma and Every Week Counts.

Smoking is down 2.8 percentage points compared with last year, but the rate remains 3.7 points higher than the national average. Infant mortality rates improved from 8.6 per 1,000 in 2007 to 7.6 per 1,000 in 2010.

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