What is Certified Healthy Community?

In 2010, Governor Fallin signed into law the “Oklahoma Certified Healthy Communities Act”, which establishes a voluntary certification program for communities that promote wellness, encourage the adoption of healthy behaviors, and establish safe and supportive environments. This annual certification process recognizes Oklahoma communities for their outstanding efforts and achievements in actively creating communities that are a healthy place to live, work, learn, and play. Any incorporated city, town, or municipality in Oklahoma that has a governing body that allows it to make decisions and set ordinances may apply for Certified Healthy Community status.  The program is administered by the Oklahoma Turning Point Council and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Center for the Advancement of Wellness.

Why Does Certified Healthy Matter?

Currently, the major causes of death and disability in Oklahoma are due to chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, and a significant proportion of these conditions are preventable. By becoming a Certified Healthy Community, you are providing a healthy environment for your residents, thereby supporting better choices and an overall healthier Oklahoma. By meeting most or all of the criteria to become Certified Healthy, communities provide an established environment to foster behavior modification, in addition to ordinance adoption and implementation. Certified Healthy Community provides an opportunity to reach all only the residents of the community, but also those who work, learn and play within the community. Additionally, Certified Healthy Community encourages the implementation of ordinances, policies, programs, and procedures that touch not only all of these individuals as well. By providing a community environment rooted in evidence-based health and wellness principles, you are contributing to Oklahoma’s future.

The State of Health in Oklahoma

Oklahoma currently ranks 45 on America’s Health Rankings (2015). Our poor health outcomes are hurting our families, future, and finances.

  • From 1990 to 2010, life expectancy in the US has increased by 3.3 years; in the same time period, Oklahomans have only seen an increase of 0.9 years (OSDH 2014).
  • The leading cause of death in Oklahoma is heart disease. In fact, 1 in 4 Oklahoma deaths in 2012 was due to heart disease (OSDH 2014). Physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and smoking all contribute to heart disease.
  • In 2010, Oklahoma had the highest death rate due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the nation. Cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD and secondhand smoke contributes to the disease, as well (OSDH 2014).
  • Oklahoma has the 4th highest death rate in the US due to diabetes, and 90-95% of diabetes cases are categorized as Type 2 (OSDH 2014).

Chronic disease is often preventable, but Oklahomans’ health behaviors are contributing to the state’s chronic disease morbidity and mortality

  • Approximately 1 out of 2 Oklahomans eat less than one fruit daily, and 1 out of 4 eat less than one vegetable daily (BRFSS 2013).
  • More Oklahomans are overweight or obese than at a normal weight (68%) (BRFSS 2014).
  • More than 1 out of 4 Oklahomans gets no leisure-time physical activity (BRFSS 2014).
  • Approximately 1 out of 5 Oklahomans is a current smoker (BRFSS 2014).

Unhealthy eating, a sedentary lifestyle, and tobacco use are a recipe for chronic disease. However, we can work together to improve behaviors and the health of Oklahomans. The change starts with YOU!

Community residents will have the opportunity to begin their journey toward a healthier lifestyle-including moving more, eating better, and being tobacco-free. The start of this journey provides a great opportunity to help residents develop a lifelong culture of health. Likewise, visitors can greatly benefit from healthy changes in communities, including access to healthier foods, opportunities for physical activity, and smokefree air.

Communities that are Certified Healthy see a return on their investment via healthier residents, staff and visitors. By contributing to the wellness of those in your community, you are helping to create a better, brighter Oklahoma. Communities that advocate for health are recognized as leaders in Oklahoma!


America’s Health Rankings. 2015. Oklahoma. State Data. Retrieved from http://www.americashealthrankings.org/OK.

Oklahoma State Department of Health. 2014. Indicator Report Cards. 2014 State of the State’s Health. Retrieved from http://www.ok.gov/health/pub/boh/state/SOSH%202014-Indicator%20Report%20Cards.pdf.

Oklahoma State Department of Health: Center for Health Statistics. 2013. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Oklahoma Statistics on Health Available for Everyone (OK2SHARE). Retrieved from http://www.health.state.ok.us/stats/Health_Surveys/BRFSS/Statistics11.shtml.

Oklahoma State Department of Health: Center for Health Statistics. 2014. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Oklahoma Statistics on Health Available for Everyone (OK2SHARE). Retrieved from http://www.health.state.ok.us/stats/Health_Surveys/BRFSS/Statistics11.shtml.

Tobacco Free Kids. 2014. The Toll of Tobacco in Oklahoma. The Toll of Tobacco in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/facts_issues/toll_us/Oklahoma.

University of Michigan (Health Management Research Center). 2000. The Ultimate 20th Century Cost Benefit Analysis and Report: pages 1-39.