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Obesity: West Virginia must find more ways to tackle problem

Despite repeated warnings for many years that some West Virginia parents are doing their children a terrible disservice by not doing more to keep them healthy, our state still has an unacceptable number of boys and girls who are obese.

Nearly a fifth of Mountain State children are obese, researchers with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported this week. That is the seventh-highest rate in the United States. In fact, youth between ages 10-17 have a 19.6 percent obesity rate in West Virginia. But when the study focused more on the older kids, the number rose — 22.9 percent of those in grades 9-12 are obese.

Encouraging good eating habits and physical activity are the best way to address the problem. Again, however, it appears many parents are not doing that. Among the reasons for this failure is that perhaps they do not understand or care (or, in some cases, have the resources) about tackling the problem for themselves. The report showed 39.7 percent of West Virginia adults are obese.

Public education policymakers have recognized for years that schools must take up the slack, through health education, physical fitness and balanced school meals. They seem to do a good job. Unfortunately, it appears they need to do even more; or communities need to find new ways to teach and support adults so the problem can be attacked from all sides.

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