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Oklahoma ranks third in adult obesity prevalence, per CDC

Oklahoma ranks third in the U.S. for obesity prevalence, with 40% of Oklahomans reporting a BMI over 30.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Oklahoma ranks third in the U.S. for obesity prevalence, with 40% of Oklahomans reporting a BMI over 30.

Oklahoma has the third-highest adult obesity prevalence in the nation, according to the CDC.

Data from 2022 found that Oklahoma is among 22 states with a prevalence above 35%, trailing only Louisiana and West Virginia at 40.1 and 41%, respectively. Obesity prevalence refers to the proportion of adults with BMIs equal to or greater than 30 based on self-reported weight and height.

John Schumann, a primary care provider at Tulsa’s Oak Street Health, said he’s not surprised by this ranking, and he often sees the impacts of obesity in patients who develop high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In 2021, about 39% of adult Oklahomans had high blood pressure, and 12.8% reported having diabetes.

Schumann said a new class of medications used for diabetes and weight loss, like Ozempic, are available and can help treat obesity. Long-term side effects are unknown. But he said his first-line treatment for people affected by obesity is counseling and education.

“Even in medical school, we have very limited, poor, I would say, education around nutrition, specifically,” Schumann said. “I think nutrition education as a whole is not readily available, and I think is not up to the task of helping to combat junk food prevalence and the obesity epidemic.”

Karen Hacker, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a news release there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to combating obesity prevalence.

“We know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health such as access to healthcare, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity,” Hacker said in the release.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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