Oklahoma State University has been awarded nearly $4 million over the next five years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to tackle Oklahoma’s obesity crisis. Adair and Muskogee counties in eastern Oklahoma will be the initial counties targeted by this project.
OSU's College of Human Sciences and OSU's Center for Health Systems Innovation partnered with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service to win this project. The High Obesity County Program, which is part of the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, funds universities in states with counties that have more than 40 percent prevalence of obesity in adults.
“We at the Center for Health Systems Innovation have a mission to transform rural and Native American health,” said William D. Paiva, executive director for the Center for Health Systems Innovation (CHSI). “This project will allow us to continue to expand our programs to support our core mission. More importantly, it will allow us to provide valuable programs to our rural citizens to address the obesity crisis, which is causing Oklahomans to die far too young.”
Oklahoma ranks among the nation’s worst for adult obesity rates (sixth), diabetes (sixth), cardiovascular deaths (second) and cancer deaths (fifth), according to the CDC and the 2014 Oklahoma State of the State Health Report. The two counties initially targeted for these grant efforts have adult obesity rates exceeding 40 percent: Adair (41.3 percent) and Muskogee (40.6 percent). The target of the $3.9 million five-year project, titled Curbing Obesity in Adair and Muskogee Counties, are residents who are considered obese or at risk of becoming obese.
“We are excited and honored to be part of this interdisciplinary, intercampus effort to address obesity rates in Oklahoma,” said Jorge Atiles, associate dean for extension and engagement. “The OSU College of Human Sciences, through our Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension programs, has a rich history of providing cutting-edge solutions to support the residents of all 77 counties within Oklahoma.”
According to Deana Hildebrand, an associate professor and extension specialist in OSU’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the programs in the project aim to link health care clinics with Cooperative Extension programs, both existing and new, that are in the counties.
“The coordinated approach will support county residents in following through on recommendations made by health care providers, thus increasing the potential to make a dent in our obesity crisis,” Hildebrand said. “Our applied research groups and partners have been, over the last decade, producing some of the leading efforts in this field, and we are excited to provide real solutions to Oklahoma residents.”
The CDC funding enables OSU to develop, deploy and fund healthy eating initiatives and safe and accessible physical activity options over the next five years, Hildebrand said.
Janice Hermann, a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, said the long-term benefits of the program will be improved physical health of residents in Adair and Muskogee counties.
“It is clear from the research we have conducted at OSU and the CDC’s research efforts that many of the issues related to our obesity epidemic in Oklahoma can be addressed with a focused effort to improve access to healthy food and safe and accessible physical activity options,” Hermann said.
Residents of Adair and Muskogee counties interested in learning more about the project are encouraged to contact their county extension offices at:
- Adair County: 918-696-2253
- Muskogee County: 918-686-7200
The project will be executed in partnership with the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank, the Cherokee Nation and local health providers. In addition, the project will leverage existing Cooperative Extension Service programs, Improving Student Health and Academic Achievement through Nutrition program, the Comprehensive Cancer Control program and the TSET Healthy Living Program
The grant programs also will connect with primary care physicians in those counties to encourage patient participation.
“These programs represent an exciting opportunity to connect our physician networks that we have built through programs like the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s Health Access Network and the Zarrow Family Foundation funded Rural Oklahoma Network,” Paiva said.
Federal support for Curbing Obesity in Adair and Muskogee Counties program is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through project number 1 NU58DP006565-01-0, and private funding raised by the OSU Center for Health Systems Innovation.