Study: Carter Co. among unhealthiest in Oklahoma

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ARDMORE, OK - For many of us picking up a meal at a fast food restaurant saves time, even though it might not be the healthiest choice. But a new study released this week says this trend is just one of the factors that's making local counties some of the unhealthiest in Oklahoma. Dara Downs has the story.

The study done by the University of Wisconsin puts most of the counties in our area in the bottom half of the state, including Carter County which ranked 60th out of 77 counties. But city leaders say they aren't taking the news laying down, and have plans in progress to boost the county's overall health.

The new health study reviewed many key factors that contribute to the overall health of a person as well as their life expectancy. One of those is the availability of health care in the area.

Sharon Ford from the Carter County Health Department says lack of health care keeps some people from getting treatments and check ups that could keep them healthy.

"If you don't have insurance and can't get in to see a doctor for routine physicals, and you know just health visits, as well as when you're sick." Ford says.

The study also focused on environmental factors like the number of liquor stores in the area to the number of places you can get fresh fruits and vegetables compared to the number of fast food restaurants, something which experts say has direct ties to high obesity rates.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than other things that are higher in fat and calories," says co-chair for the Ardmore Health Improvement Plan T. J. Riley.

Poor eating habits can put people at risk for many illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, something Riley says could easily be prevented.

"Billions are spent each year treating preventable illness and we're in a cycle where we keep repeating that and we've got to break that cycle and start making healthier choices."

Riley says the Chamber and citizens of Ardmore came up with a Health Improvement Plan for Carter County and will hold seminars throughout the year to educate residents on healthier choices.

Riley says the first step in getting fit is getting more people active.

"We've got local fitness providers who are coming in to help people design their own plan as well as encourage them as well as speakers coming in to help kick this off by encouraging our community to make an individual decision to become more active."

The Chamber will have their kick off event at the Ardmore Convention Center on February 23. Admission is free, and the chamber says they hope the community will take the first step to better health.

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