Story by TaNiqua Ward; TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist
Many organizations in Oklahoma have become certifiable – Certifiably Healthy that is! Being Certified Healthy means an organization has created an environment that supports health. That healthier environment could be focused on employees, customers, students or members, and improves our individual access to healthier options. So rather than being at the mercy of a particular environment, we are provided with options by Certified Healthy organizations, making our individual choice to act in a more healthy way an easier thing to do.
Having healthier environments, making the healthy choice the easy choice, where we live, work, learn, play, and pray is especially important for Oklahomans. Oklahoma has the third highest number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease in the United States. More Oklahomans have been told by their doctor they have heart disease than in 41 other states. Precursors to these states of unhealthiness are things like high blood pressure and cholesterol, of which Oklahoma respectively has the 8th and 6th highest in the entire country. Obesity prevalence ranks us 6th highest, and diagnosed diabetes prevalence ranks us 7th in the nation, which doesn’t even account for prediabetes numbers. Leading directly up to these diagnosable conditions are the behaviors and rankings for which Oklahoma has become famous. Things like adult Oklahoman’s fruit consumption ranked at 49th and vegetable consumption at 46th in the United States have given us a spotlight we never wanted. We’re also more physically inactive than 45 other states, smoke at a rate higher than 39 states, and have more poor mental health days than 38 others. Oklahoma currently ranks 46th overall in America’s Health Rankings.
Certified Healthy has shed light on the space where health choices are made and illuminated a tangible solution to our state’s health-related burden.
In 2015, over 1700 Oklahoma organizations did something about the environments they provide to those important to them. They were Certified Healthy within one of the program’s seven sectors:
- Early childhood programs
Oklahoma offers abundant no-cost resources and services at the local and state level, focused on reducing the burden of chronic conditions in Oklahoma. So ask your employer and the organizations, “Are you Certified Healthy?” Do they have a Certified Healthy sticker on their front door? What are your community, church, school, favorite restaurant, and childcare facility doing to improve access to healthier options for the people they serve and those important to them? If each person reading this suggested to an organization they become Certified Healthy, it could greatly improve Oklahoma lives.
Beyond supporting the people they serve and creating environments that make the healthy choice the easier choice, organizations qualifying to be Certified Healthy receive well-deserved recognition awards, media coverage, and are invited to attend the annual Certified Healthy Awards workshops and luncheon.
Applications are open from August 1, 2016 through November 1, 2016. All applications must be submitted online at www.certifiedhealthyok.com. There are three levels of certification: basic, merit, and excellence. Each category has different elements listed and the applicant uses a check mark to denote the elements that are currently being implemented within the establishment/community. If you are interested in specific information or need assistance, contact the Payne County Health Department or the TSET Payne County Healthy Living Program.
Certified Healthy Oklahoma recipients set a positive example and shape brighter futures for Oklahoma. Help Oklahoma Shine!