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For Release: December 8, 2010
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601                                                                                  

Oklahoma Improves State Health Ranking

The UnitedHealth Foundation has released its annual state health ranking scorecard which indicates that Oklahoma improved its ranking by three points, scoring 46th in the nation for 2010, up from 49th in 2009.

“We are pleased that focused efforts throughout the state to improve the health of Oklahomans have resulted in an improved health status ranking,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “What this really means is lives have been saved and the quality of life for many of our families, friends and coworkers is better.”

Cline said public health officials are studying the report’s health status indicators concerning Oklahoma’s personal behaviors, public health policies, community and environmental influences, clinical care, and economic factors. “Preliminary review indicates that our improved score was due to high immunization coverage, with more than 90 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months immunized, and a low prevalence of binge drinking in the population,” Cline said. “Also contributing to our improved state health ranking was a decrease in the incidence of infectious diseases occurring in Oklahoma in the last 10 years, as well as a slight decrease in the number of children living in poverty.”

The report notes continued challenges to Oklahoma’s public health include preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease. About 12,500 Oklahomans die each year from this disease, with obesity and smoking as key contributors. Oklahoma is now one of nine states where more than 30 percent of adults are obese. About 1 in 4 adults in Oklahoma still smokes. Even so, there have been some improvements in tobacco use as the total number of cigarettes sold in Oklahoma has dropped to a 50-year low, and more than half of those Oklahomans who smoke have made at least one serious attempt to quit within the last year.

“We hope the state health ranking report will stimulate action by individuals, health professionals, employers, elected officials and communities to work together to achieve a state of health in Oklahoma,” said Cline. “We already have a blue print for action through the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan with several community initiatives now underway to encourage Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco free.”

For more information on the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan visit www.health.ok.gov. For additional information on the UnitedHealth Foundation’s 2010 state health rankings, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

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