West Virginia is a state known for its rolling mountains and country roads, but also for struggling with one of the most serious chronic disease issues in the nation. The state consistently rises to the top in weight-related issues that potentially affect more than just waistlines.
According to The Charleston Gazette, West Virginia leads the nation in obesity, heart attacks and diabetes. One in four 11-year-olds has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, while one in five kindergarteners is obese. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that over half of West Virginians fail to participate in sufficient physical activity.
In spring 2012, four West Virginia Uncovered students teamed up with The Charleston Gazette to take a closer look at the problems that are threatening the health of an entire state.
A West Virginia mother, Tammy Carrico, realized she can’t really expect her son to get fit and be in shape if she doesn’t do it herself. After a stay at a youth health camp, Ethan, Carrico’s son said, “I told my family a lot about nutrition, and they started getting interested. That makes it a lot easier for me.”
PEIA Weight Management Program member, Martha Failinger, gives viewers a look at the benefits of West Virginia Public Employees Agency’s fitness program. Program participants average 18.4 pounds weight loss per year while they improve their overall fitness. “Just having that extra push from somebody who is looking out for you has been really great,” says Failinger.
West Virginia University student Courtney Tyner struggled with her own weight and health, then “I studied the research and became passionate about it, and I realized it was something I could do to make a difference.” Now she’s studying to be a dietician.
Last year, Nancy Robinson had gastric bypass surgery after her doctor told her that, at 350 pounds, she was taking too much insulin to have a baby safely. The surgery was the first step for the 29 year old, who works out most days a week to reach her the rest of her health goals through diet and exercise.