May 3, 2021



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “For the Children” Weekly Column

Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117



For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA


Fighting Childhood Obesity is “Work Worth Doing”

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

I saw this post on a friend’s social media page. As Teddy is my favorite President, I was surprised that I had not seen this quote before. If you have read about him, this certainly describes his attitude and how he lived his life.

Equally in the spirit of this quote are the people who also want to see better, even if on different paths. That is what makes policy work an unusual beast; almost all want to see better results and opportunities for the people served, but various philosophies, party registrations, backgrounds, and viewpoints create different daily dynamics.

Recently, such an opportunity brought together various organizations and viewpoints toward one unified goal: improving the health of Oklahoma’s children by reducing obesity and increasing activity. Springing from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell volunteered to lead this conversation and find solutions.

Oklahoma’s top elected officials understand the problem faced by our state: 18.8% of youth ages 10 to 17 are obese, making Oklahoma the eighth highest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for childhood obesity. This data comes from a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called “State of Childhood Obesity.”

Childhood obesity creates adult issues. The project showed 36.8% of Oklahoma adults are obese, placing us fourth highest out of the 50 states and D.C. Similarly, we are 13th out of 51 for adults with diabetes at 12.2%, and 37.8% of adults have hypertension, ranking us 12th out of 51.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) dedicated our annual Child Advocacy Luncheon to this discussion last week. We were fortunate to have Dr. Chan Hellman, one of our state’s foremost experts on children’s issues discuss the health impact faced from this issue and discuss the data behind this issue.

Lieutenant Governor Pinnell shared his vision for what we need to do as a state to improve our quality of health. Oklahoma’s 2021 Kid Governor Charlotte Anderson expressed her beliefs about how her peers can do more outdoors this summer and be active.

To complete the conversation, OICA was deeply honored to have Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas provide insight on the work done by the “NFL Play 60” program and what the NFL is doing to help overcome this nationwide problem.

The mission ahead is clear: improving physical activity, increasing access to fresh produce and encouraging better habits through health education. 

Thank you to all who are working on this issue, and especially to our speakers and attendees. Special thanks go to the sponsors: Complete Health Oklahoma, an initiative working to deliver better health outcomes for Oklahoma’s youth, and Paycom, an Oklahoma-based online payroll and human resource technology provider.

You can see the 90-minute recording at if you want to learn more, and you can contact us if you would like to join this important endeavor. OICA is hopeful this collaborative initiative will help deliver both policy and programs to help overcome these problems faced by Oklahomans.

To me, this is indeed the work worth doing, and it is good to see Oklahomans from varying perspectives working toward the same goal. I think Teddy would be proud of us.