The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 12, 2013

State’s health ranking among nation’s worst

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s public health ranking among states can’t get much worse. The annual United Health Foundation scores released this week put us at No. 44, down one notch from the 2012 rank.

If the ranking were for college sports or bumpy road conditions, talk radio would be slammed with callers demanding changes and affixing blame on those at the top. But it’s our personal health and shifting responsibility to others is a bit of a stretch.

Only Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi rank lower, in that order. Hawaii ranks as the nation’s healthiest state.

State officials said the United Health Foundation rankings figured in drug overdose rates this year and caused Oklahoma to drop one notch. Our other negatives include high rates of childhood poverty, obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

The state’s dip in smoking rates among adults also is figured into the rankings. About 23 percent of all Oklahoma adults smoke, compared to 26 percent in 2012. Teen smoking rates also have declined.

More children live in poverty this year, with Oklahoma posting the largest rate of increase. Childhood poverty increased from 21 to 27 percent over the past decade.

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