Obesity is a huge problem in our country (pardon the pun). More than 1/3 of adult Americans are obese. In Oklahoma, where I live, it has been estimated that more than 35% of the population is obese. Only Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia have higher rates of obesity than Oklahoma.
Obesity is directly linked to many preventable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
Oklahoma OBESITY Rate Facts
Here are some interesting facts related to obesity in Oklahoma. These are taken from the burden of obesity report, published in 2020.
- Oklahoma has a very high obesity rate, ranking 10th in the nation for adult obesity prevalence at 31.1% in 2018. About 1 million Oklahoma adults are obese.
- Obesity rates vary across Oklahoma counties, ranging from 29.0% in Love County to 55.5% in Tillman County.
- Certain groups have higher obesity rates, such as those with lower income and education levels, racial and ethnic minorities, and middle-aged adults.
- Oklahoma also has high youth obesity rates, ranking 7th nationally for high school students at 17.3% in 2017. About 29,000 Oklahoma high school students are obese. Obesity rates are higher for minorities, males, and students at higher grade levels.
- For children aged 10–17, Oklahoma’s obesity rate was 18.0% in 2017–2018, ranking 6th nationally. Approximately 72,000 Oklahoma children ages 10–17 are obese. Obesity is higher among males, older children, and minorities.
- Oklahoma adults have low rates of meeting physical activity guidelines and consuming adequate fruits and vegetables. Similarly, rates of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption are low among Oklahoma youth.
Typical Unhealthy Eating Patterns in Oklahoma
It is understandable why many of us Oklahomans are obese when you look at the typical eating patterns we have been raised with. We love our fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried okra, cornbread, sweet tea, etc. Have you ever ordered a chicken fried steak in any other state? No other state compares to the chicken fry that is readily available in the Sooner state.
Unhealthy Options at Restaurants
Have you ever visited a Chinese food buffet in Oklahoma? These buffets overflow with garlic-fried chicken, fried pork, fried shrimp, fried rice, and copious amounts of gravies and sweet sauces. These Chinese restaurant owners know what their Okie customers want or like and adapt the menu accordingly. Yet when these Asian restaurant owners feed their own families, the food typically does not resemble the buffet line. They eat fresh vegetables, fruits, steamed rice, and lean meats. Is it any wonder the obesity rate among Americans of Asian descent is around 10%? (Obesity rates for the rest of the ethnic groups in America range from 33% to 48%.).
US Dietary Guidelines
Every five years since 1980, the US government has published dietary guidelines to educate the American public about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Recently, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines were published. The goal of the guideline is for individuals throughout all stages of the lifespan to have eating patterns that promote overall health and help prevent chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer).
Definition of a Healthy Eating Pattern
So what exactly is a healthy eating pattern? A healthy eating pattern consists of all foods and drinks that a person consumes over time. Eating patterns are adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, culture, traditions, and budget. A healthy eating pattern should include a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein foods, and oils, and should limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
The path to improving health through nutrition is to follow a healthy eating pattern that is right for you. A healthy eating pattern can be maintained over a person’s lifetime and, at appropriate calorie levels, promotes health and supports a healthy body weight. You can include many of the foods that you enjoy in a healthy eating pattern.
The guideline recognizes more than one healthy eating pattern and gives three different examples and advice on the amounts of food required for individuals.
Examples of Healthy Eating Patterns
Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern: Calorie recommendations based on age, sex, and activity level.
Making Small Changes
Start with small changes in your eating pattern to avoid becoming overwhelmed. For example, you could simply start by replacing refined-flour bread with whole-grain bread, include more veggies in the food you are used to eating, and perhaps reduce the amount of salt you use.
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t short-term dietary changes; it’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity. If you need help getting started and you are in Oklahoma City, OK, call Stover PT, and we would be glad to give you an individually tailored fitness program.
Take some of the advice from these sources and incorporate it into your daily routine in a consistent and sustainable way. Its alright to have an occasional chicken fried steak or visit the Chinese buffet now and then. Just don’t make it a consistent part of your eating pattern.You will soon start to see and feel long-term improvements in your body weight and overall health.