NORMAN — It’s a bad news, good news scenario. The good news is a recent study ranks Cleveland County as one of the healthiest in Oklahoma. The bad news is Oklahoma remains at the bottom of the list for health nationally.
But wait — there is more good news. Oklahomans are improving their health. States that showed the most substantial improvement in national rankings this year include New Jersey, which jumped nine slots upward; Maryland, which improved by five slots; and Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, all of which improved by three slots, according to The United Health Foundation’s “2012 America’s Health Ranking.”
Nationally, the five least healthy states are South Carolina, ranked 46, West Virginia, 47, Arkansas, 48, and Mississippi and Louisiana, tied at 49.
Statewide, Cleveland County’s health outlook is one of the best. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s recent publication “County Health Rankings 2013,” Cleveland County is ranked No. 1 in health factors. The county is ranked No. 2 behind Kingfisher County for health outcomes such as mortality, physical health and birth weight.
“One thing that might have contributed is people are more in tune with what they’re eating, like farm to table and eating organically grown food,” County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said.
As people learn more and become more conscious, the culture of health changes, Cleveland said.
He said his wife sells Arbonne International vegan products and talks about health issues with people in the community. Christine Cleveland said she has noticed an increased interest in health.
“People are more conscious,” Rod Cleveland said. “I’ve also talked to Mark Floyd at Downtown Fitness. They’re busier and I guess business is one of the best it’s been.”
Health behaviors: Health behaviors measured in the ranking include tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use and sexually related health issues. Those behaviors are important health determinants, which is why the Cleveland County Health Department initiated a Countywide Health Improvement Plan last year addressing tobacco prevention, obesity reduction and child health.