Report: Oklahoman's poor health hampering state's ability to attract new industry

Friday, December 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahomans' poor health is hampering the state's ability to attract new business, according to a report written for the state Board of Health.

Residents' addiction to nicotine, overeating and alcohol contribute to high medical insurance premiums and worker's compensation rates which can discourage businesses from moving to Oklahoma, the sixth annual ``State of the State's Health Report'' concluded.

``Oklahoma's age-adjusted death rates are much higher than the rest of the nation and even appear to be getting worse _ a very disturbing trend,'' the report says.

The document _ which was released Thursday in Tulsa _ indicates that ``Oklahoma is losing far too many at an early age'' and ``this speaks to the relatively poor health of our adult working population.''

Health board member Gordon Deckert said compared with the rest of the nation, Oklahoma's overall health is getting worse instead of better.

Oklahoma's favorable climate, central location and work ethic make it an attractive place for businesses to relocate, the report says.

But the state's low ranking in most U.S. health statistics ``should be of particular concern to our business communities and chambers of commerce,'' the report says.

Smoking, obesity and alcoholism contribute each year to more than 30 percent of all illnesses in Oklahoma.

The report said solutions include additional funding of preventive health measures.

``The state Board of Health calls upon Oklahoma business leaders to not only recognize the inseparable link between health and economic well-being, but also to work together with leaders to improve our state's health status by investing in preventive measures,'' the report states.

``Such action will result in a healthier Oklahoma economy together with a healthier population.''