Time to Improve Health in West Virginia | News, Sports, Jobs

If you’re still dealing with the effects of a massive holiday meal followed by a few days of leftovers and lots of couch time for football, you might be feeling a little unhealthy right now.

It won’t be a surprise to learn that another study shows that West Virginians are the unhealthiest in the country. Total Shape examined data on online searches for gym memberships, the number of gyms per 100,000 population, the number of fast-food restaurants per 100,000 population, the percentage of adult smokers, and the obesity rate.

Here in Mountain State, we have the lowest number of gyms per 100,000 population at just 8, but also the highest percentage of smokers at 24% and the second highest rate of obesity at 40%. There are 77 fast food restaurants for every 100,000 people – three more than the national average of 74.

Of course, these numbers are just the beginning. We also have high rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and substance abuse.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story. You don’t need a gym membership to work out. Our wild and wonderful nature gives us many opportunities to burn calories and stay strong while working and playing outdoors.

It’s certainly a concern that fast food is sometimes an inexpensive choice for those who live in places where healthy, fresh food is hard to find. It would be nice to think that public officials and economic development types were boosting communities in a way that invited healthier and less expensive food options.

It’s time for a change – and it’s something in our control. The holiday season is both an opportunity to reflect on giving ourselves the gift of striving to be healthier and supporting the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

Whatever excuse you use, you better take care of yourself—not just for your own sake, but for those who are counting on you.

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