The state's Department of Health and Human Resources recently released a report entitled "Obesity in West Virginia." The numbers and percentages of our residents from youth to senior who fall under the category of obese is truly frightening.
Data shows that 18.5 percent of kindergarteners were obese, compared with 22.1 percent of second graders and 29.6 percent of fifth graders. These numbers delineate a pattern that must be reversed. Physical activity must become the norm rather than the exception, both for our youth and for our adults.
We commend the DHHR for their work on gathering the facts on the state's obesity rate as well as for providing some suggestions on how to combat the problem. Counties around the state are establishing quality physical education programs in schools and encouraging walking and biking by providing connected areas to do so.
Our county affords individuals many areas to get out and get moving. We encourage parents to enforce limits on television and computer games and encourage their children to get outdoors or in a gymnasium and exercise.
Our schools, too, need to get back in the loop in providing physical education as a part of every student's regular day. While academics are extremely important, so, too is the need for physical movement. By putting an emphasis back into the schools regarding exercise, we not only encourage a healthy lifestyle, but we help motivate and invigorate students through physical activity.
The trends are indicating that as children get older, their obesity level increases. It is time to return physical education to our secondary schools as a required part of the school day to help stop the onset of debilitating diseases brought on or worsened by too much weight. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and hypertension are just some of the woes encroaching upon our population. Let's start to fight them now.
To review the entire report from DDHR, visit www.wvdhhr.org/bph/HSC/Pubs/Other/ObesityReport2011/obesityreport2011.pdf.