The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Viewpoint: Oklahoma can avoid being a top 10 obese state, but lawmakers need to act

Posted in

Monday, Apr 11, 2022


This article originally appeared in The Oklahoman

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Dan Little serves as Chairman of Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) and as lifetime member of the Sarkeys Foundation Board of Directors and on the boards of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy.
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Oklahoma is home to the finest corporations, higher-education institutions and medical facilities, bolstered by a vibrant workforce and supportive community. However, childhood obesity poses a serious threat to our future economy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, Oklahoma had the ninth-highest obesity prevalence in the nation. 

COVID-19 led to school closures, disrupted routines, increased stress and reduced opportunities for physical activity among youths. A Cooper Institute published study demonstrated the impact of COVID-19 on physical activity nationwide. Of respondents, 79% reported their students were “Significantly Less” or “Somewhat Less” physically active during school closures. Decrease in physical activity puts our children at increased risk for obesity and other health-related outcomes. A Journal of the American Medical Association study found that the portion of students between 5 and 11 who are considered overweight increased to 45.7%, compared to 36.2% pre-pandemic, with a 5.2% increase for those between 12 and 15,?and a 3.1% jump for those ages 16 and 17. 

Oklahoma has the opportunity to improve the health and education of our children by enacting House Bill 2381, which requires the implementation of a statewide physical fitness assessment in grades 3-12. This bill helps leaders prioritize health interventions and provide students, parents and educators with the tools to encourage lifelong physical activity and fitness. 

Oklahoma strives to be a top 10 state — not a top 10 obese state. Oklahoma lawmakers should send HB 2381 to the governor’s desk for his signature, which will create a healthy workforce, reduce health care cost and ensure a healthy Oklahoma. 

Sign up for our Advocacy Newsletter for the latest information on HB 2381 and how you can help.