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FOR RELEASE: September 23, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Walk This Weigh Oklahoma Sponsors Walk For Health on Oct. 2

Three of the leading causes of death in Oklahoma are heart disease, stroke and arteriosclerosis. That’s the bad news. State health officials say the good news is that something can be done to help prevent many of those deaths, but it will take changes in attitude and lifestyle that incorporate both proper nutrition and exercise.

In an effort to improve Oklahoma’s state of health, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Turning Point Council (OTPC) and its more than 1,000 partners will kick off a statewide health initiative called Walk this Weigh Oklahoma with a Walk for Health on Thursday, Oct. 2. Organizers hope at least 150,000 Oklahomans will participate in community walking events scheduled throughout the state on that day.

“The message is simple. Walk This Weigh Oklahoma encourages you to walk at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Reduce fat intake by one to three percent and enjoy a healthier life,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. “Healthy families are good for communities, businesses and the entire state’s prosperity.”

In Oklahoma City, a Walk for Health and short rally are planned on Oct. 2 during the lunch hour at the State Capitol. Employees in the capitol complex and the OU Health Sciences Center will walk from their agencies to the south steps of the State Capitol to call attention to the problems of obesity and physical inactivity. The public is invited to participate in the walk.

At least 19 communities in the state have agreed to kick off a major statewide health initiative that same day to encourage Oklahomans to live healthier lives. The communities are actively participating in the Walk this Weigh Oklahoma program and many have already begun community projects to improve the quality of life in their towns. Those locations include: Norman, Jackson County, Cherokee County, Bristow, Eufaula, Kingfisher, Muskogee, Choctaw County, and The Choctaw Nation with its 10 county areas.

“Good health begins with the individual taking control over their personal life-style choices to live the bet quality of life possible,” said Beitsch. “The Turning Point Council, businesses and nonprofits are partnering with the Walk This Weigh Oklahoma initiative to make a difference in the personal and economic lives of residents in their communities by providing local incentives and contests to inspire and encourage people to take control of their health,” he said.

So, why is the state health department partnering with the OTPC to promote this program? Some of the bleak facts about our health status today are:

  • U.S. adult obesity rates have risen drastically in the last decade from 12 percent to 20 percent.
  • In Oklahoma, approximately 43 percent of the adults report no leisure time physical activity.
  • Thirteen percent of children and adolescents are now overweight or obese, which represents more than a doubling in the last 30 years.
  • More than 15 percent of our youth are considered obese and about 33 percent of all children under age 18 are at high risk for Type 2 diabetes.
  • Almost 80 percent of Oklahomans are eating fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Walk This Weigh Oklahoma is just one initiative that health departments are partnering with to provide a positive response to a bad situation. The initiative is designed to improve the health of all the residents of Oklahoma by:

  • raising public awareness through a fun and innovative approach to reducing individual weight and increasing physical activity levels;
  • implementing healthy community design and smart growth strategies; and
  • advocating for nutritional and physical activity policies and standards in schools, worksites, healthcare systems, and governmental entities.

For more information about Walk This Weigh Oklahoma or to see what your community is planning, call the county health department in your area or visit the OTPC Web site at http://www.otpc.org. (A partial listing of events planned statewide is attached.)

Walk This Weigh Oklahoma Statewide Schedule of Events

October Events:

Oklahoma County -- Walk This Weigh Oklahoma -“Walk for Health” -- The Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Turning Point Council will kick off October 2 with a walk from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from the OU Health Sciences Center to the State Capitol. State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch and other dignitaries will lead the walk. The public is invited to attend.

Norman - Kickoff event will be on October 2 at 12:15 p.m. at Andrews Park. The community will focus on worksite health initiatives and family events that promote healthy lifestyle choices. There are several celebrities scheduled to participate in the monthly Celebrity Stroll that occurs at various sites throughout the year.

Jackson County - Kick off event is October 2 from 2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Altus Community Center and Reservoir. Miss Oklahoma, Kelly Scott, will be on hand as local businesses weigh-in for the Team Challenge. Various vendors will be on hand with information about improving individual health.

Cherokee County - Kick off event is October 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the NSU Beta Field. Participants will be walking the one-mile route through Main Street and ending at the Cherokee County Court House. Merchants will set-up along the route with sale items and health information. The NSU band and pom-pom squad will be on hand to motivate walkers.

Bristow - Kick off is October 2 at 5:30 p.m. on Main Street. Participants will sign up to walk around the world in 12 months. Various partners will encourage residents to walk the number of steps that would allow them to reach different destinations in the world.

Eufaula - The Community Garden is the focus of the yearlong Walk This Weigh initiative. The community will focus on healthy food choices aimed at reducing obesity rates in the community. The Creek Nation is working in several schools with the Route 66 curriculum and promoting jump rope as an alternative way of exercising with youth.

Kingfisher - The community is focusing on smart growth strategies that will allow for continuation of the master trails plan. The goal is to have facilities available for every citizen in the community that will encourage healthy lifestyles.

Muskogee - Kick off at Arrowhead Mall 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with booths, businesses and various demonstrations on exercise options, nutrition and walking programs. There will be a senior square dancing demonstration, and the schools are participating in the Route 66 curriculum.

Choctaw County - One-mile walk beginning at Choctaw Memorial Hospital and ending at the Choctaw County Agriplex from 9 am to 12 pm on Oct. 2. The hospital will be available during that time to do health screenings. Healthy snacks will be provided to participants along the way.

Choctaw Nation - Target groups include: Employees of the Choctaw Nation, Health Care Center, Jones Academy, Choctaw Nation Basketball Camps, Choctaw Nation Youth Summer Wellness Camps, Antlers Community, and Choctaw Nation Tribal Members. The Nation will implement “Employee Wellness/Fitness Program” via a virtual Trail of Tears walk.

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