Adults and children at an unhealthy weight are a growing concern in the United States, especially in Oklahoma. Today, 35.7% of Oklahoma high schoolers are obese or overweight, and a staggering 36.4% of adults are obese.

Being overweight means weighing more than what is considered healthy for a given height. Obesity is a higher-risk category that describes even higher body-weights.

This epidemic is a serious concern, as overweight and obesity are associated with poorer mental health outcomes, reduced quality of life and a variety of chronic diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • At least 13 types of cancer



That’s right. Thirteen types of cancer. Being overweight or obese can cause changes in the body like inflammation of cells and increases in levels of certain hormones, which can lead to cancer. More than half of Americans don’t even know about this risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The main contributors to being overweight or obese include unhealthy food choices, inactive lifestyles and tobacco use. Another major contributor? The overconsumption of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, juice boxes and energy drinks. Drinks like these are loaded with sugar and empty calories. One 12-oz. soda contains up to 10 packets of sugar — that’s more sugar than three glazed donuts. A 12-oz. glass of sweet tea has more sugar than 28 gummy bears.

When you consume sugary drinks, eat unhealthy foods, don’t get enough physical activity or use tobacco, your risk of obesity skyrockets.

Note: Atypical causes of overweight and obesity include genetics and medication use.


In Oklahoma, a third of 10- to 17-year-olds are overweight or obese, with 1-in-5 high schoolers categorized as obese. In the last three decades, childhood obesity across the U.S. has more than doubled in 6- to 11-year-olds and quadrupled in 12- to 19-year-olds. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which places them at higher risk for chronic diseases.


In the U.S., overweight and obesity rates continue to soar. Currently, 2 in 3 adults weigh more than recommended. Oklahoma has the 4th worst obesity rate in the nation, with 36.4% of adults being obese. That’s more than triple the rate in 1990.

The overweight and obesity problem affects Oklahomans’ health, which in turn affects Oklahoma’s economy. Healthcare costs directly associated with overweight and obesity in Oklahoma exceed $1.72 billion. On top of that, annual nationwide productivity costs from obesity-related absences range between $3.38 billion and $6.38 billion.