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  46 on America’s Health Rankings1 (). Our poor health outcomes are hurting our families, finances, and future.

  • From 1996 to 2016, premature deaths in the US has decreased from 8,340 years lost per 100,000 population to 7,054 years lost per 100,000 population; in the same time period Oklahoma saw an increase from 9,028 years lost per 100,000 population to 9,895 years lost per 100,000 population.1
  • The leading cause of death in Oklahoma is heart disease. In fact, more than 1 in 4 Oklahoma deaths in  2015was due to heart disease2 In 2015, cancer was the second leading cause of death in Oklahoma, accounting for more than 1 in 5 Oklahoma deaths.2 Cigarette smoking is responsible for about one-third of all cancer deaths in the state overall.3
  • In 2015, Oklahoma ranked highest in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths in the nation.2 Cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD and secondhand smoke contributes to the disease, as well  4
  • In 2015, Oklahoma had the 9th highest diabetes prevalence in the nation.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 2015, approx. 88% of adults with diabetes were also overweight or obese.5

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 over 60% of all deaths in Oklahoma.2

In 2015, more than half of adults did not consume at least one fruit per day. Also, nearly 1 in 4 adults did not consume at least one vegetable per day.5 In 2015, 2 out of every 3 Oklahomans were either overweight or obese.5 In 2015, one-third of adults reported to not participate in leisure time physical activity during the past month.5 In 2015, more than 1 in 5 adults were current smokers.5Unhealthy 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!

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!


United Health Foundation – America’s Health Ranking 2016 Annual Report. Available at http://www.americashealthrankings.org/learn/reports/2016-annual-report

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2015 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December, 2016. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2015, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Smoking and COPD. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/copd.html

Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Center for Health Statistics, Health Care Information, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2015, on Oklahoma Statistics on Health Available for Everyone (OK2SHARE). Available at http://www.health.ok.gov/ok2share

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: How can wellness programs save employers money while making employees healthier and more productive? Available at http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2012/rwjf401183