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What Is Certified Healthy Business?

Certified Healthy Business was created in 2003 to recognize Oklahoma businesses that promote health and wellness for their employees. Promotion of health and wellness can be done in a variety of ways including passing policies that encourage healthy lifestyles and making facilities available for physical activities. Any business, regardless of size, may apply for Certified Healthy Business status. The program is administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Center from Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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. Becoming a Certified Healthy Business, indicates you are providing a healthy environment for employees, thereby supporting better choices and an overall healthier Oklahoma. By meeting most or all of the criteria to become Certified Healthy, businesses provide an established environment to foster behavior modification, in addition to policy adoption and implementation. In doing so, risk factors for diseases such as high blood pressure, smoking, and sedentary habits are decreased, which are factors that are more likely to cost employers via absenteeism, disability, lost productivity, and the use of healthcare services (University of Michigan 2000). Additionally, Certified Healthy Business encourages the implementation of policies, programs, and procedures that touch not only employees, but visitors and employees’ families, as well. By providing a business 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 47 out of 50 on America’s Health Rankings¹. This is a decline from last year when Oklahoma was ranked 43¹. Out of all 50 states, this was the biggest decline in rankings from last year¹. The decline can be attributed primarily to an 11% increase in the obesity rate, and a 14% increase in the physical inactivity rate¹. Our poor health outcomes are hurting our families, finances, and future.

  • Premature deaths in the US overall have increased by 3% since last year from 7,214 to 7,432 years lost before age 75 per 100,000 population¹. This is due to increasing deaths due to drugs, increases in suicides, and an uptick in occupational fatalities. In Oklahoma, 9,992 years are lost before age 75 per 100,000 population¹. 
  • The leading cause of death in Oklahoma is heart disease, followed by cancer². In fact, more than 1 in 4 Oklahoma deaths in 2017 were due to heart disease². Cancer accounted for more than 1 in 5 Oklahoma deaths in 2017², and many cancer deaths are related to cigarette smoking³.
  • The third leading cause of death in Oklahoma is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In 2017, there were 3,035 deaths due to COPD in Oklahoma, accounting for 7.7% of deaths².  Cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD and secondhand smoke contributes to the disease, as well .4
  • In 2017, Oklahoma had the 8th highest diabetes prevalence in the nation at 12.7% 5. Type II diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases and obese and overweight adults are at increased risk for Type II diabetes 6. In 2017, approximately 85% of Oklahomans with diabetes were also overweight or obese .7

Chronic disease is often preventable, but Oklahomans’ health behaviors are contributing to the state’s chronic disease morbidity and mortality. It is especially worth noting that three behaviors (poor diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use) contribute to four chronic diseases (heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease) that cause approximately 60% of all deaths in Oklahoma.2

In 2017, just 54% of Oklahomans ate fruit one or more times per day 7.   Also, 17% of adults ate vegetables less than once per day 7. In the same year, almost 71% of Oklahomans were either overweight or obese 7. In 2017, more than 1 in 4 adults reported that they did not participate in leisure time physical activity during the past month 7. In 2017, 1 in 5 adults were current smokers 7. 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!

During their time at work, adults 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 people develop a lifelong culture of health. Likewise, visitors can also greatly benefit from healthy changes at worksites, including access to healthier onsite food, walking paths, and smoke free air.

Businesses that are Certified Healthy see a value and return on investment with decreased health costs, decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and better morale among employees. In fact, wellness programs can save employers an average of $6 for every $1 spent, including $3.27 saved in medical costs and an additional $2.73 gained because of reduced absenteeism. By contributing to the wellness of those in your establishment, you are helping to create a better, brighter Oklahoma. Businesses that advocate for health are recognized as leaders in the community!



1. United Health Foundation – America’s Health Ranking 2017 Annual Report. Available at

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December, 2017. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2016, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Available at

3. Lortet-Tieulent J, Goding Sauer A, Siegel RL, Miller KD, Islami F, Fedewa SA, Jacobs EJ, Jemal A. State-Level Cancer Mortality Attributable to Cigarette Smoking in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1792-1798. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6530

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Smoking and COPD. Available at

5. Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Center for Health Statistics, Health Care Information, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2016, on Oklahoma Statistics on Health Available for Everyone (OK2SHARE). Available at

6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Available at

7. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: How can wellness programs save employers money while making employees healthier and more productive? Available at