What Happened With That Famous OKC Diet?

Even as area leaders casually claim the May tornado destruction will not create image problems, a new report released recently ranks Oklahoma City the lowest of 50 cities in fitness and health.

The denial among some political leaders here is not only palpable, but dangerous to our health. There are things we can do to improve our safety—build more storm shelters, for example—and boost our health outcomes, but that won’t happen when nothing seems to matter to leaders convinced the Oklahoma City Thunder and Bricktown have turned the city into some marvelous destination place where everyone wants to live.

Once again, Oklahoma City was ranked 50th out of 50 cities in a fitness and health index created by the American College of Sport Medicine. The immensely popular local blog, The Lost Ogle, covered the not-so startling news this way, pointing out some of what I would call basic “denial” by locals here about the problem.

I’ll just directly quote from the report about the problem areas when it comes to health and fitness here:

Lower percent eating 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables per day

Higher percent currently smoking

Higher percent obese

Lower percent in excellent or very good health

Higher percent of days when mental health was not good during the past 30 days

Higher percent with asthma

Higher percent with angina or coronary heart disease

Higher percent with diabetes

Higher death rate for cardiovascular disease

Higher death rate for diabetes

Lower percent of city land area as parkland

Lower percent using public transportation to work

Lower percent bicycling or walking to work

Fewer ball diamonds per capita

Fewer dog parks per capita

Fewer park units per capita

Fewer swimming pools per capita

Fewer tennis courts per capita

Lower park-related expenditures per capita

Lower level of state requirement for physical education classes

Fewer primary health care providers per capita

The bottom line is that generally speaking people don’t eat healthy here, they smoke too much, medical accessibility is ridiculously poor and the city’s sprawling infrastructure is a huge hindrance to fitness.

Some of this, such as eating and lifestyle habits, is built into the DNA of this place, but medical availability and infrastructure improvements are areas in which government can help right away. For example, we could get thousands more people on Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and we could build more parks, sidewalks and bike trails.

But why do that when Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett can simply put the city on another diet like he did a few years ago as other city leaders fixate on building a new hotel and convention center for visitors?

Oh yeah, watch out for the tornadoes. You’re on your own.