According to multiple studies, West Virginia has been ranked poorly compared to other states typically when it comes to health. Just recently, the Gallup and Healthways released their ratings of the cities with the highest and lowest sense of well-being. Huntington was ranked the lowest for the fourth time and Charleston was ranked the second lowest.
Huntington and Charleston are very close to our area, so what's the comparison between those areas and where we are? According to a local economist, we have a good base for jobs here in the mountain state with the oil and gas industry, but that tends to cause health issues. For our particular area, officials say we have been focusing on how to build a good quality of life and that means not just focusing on job growth and creation.
Local officials say many areas are strictly focused on jobs, but there are other things that need to go into play like community development. What that means is creating better housing in neighborhoods and making those areas of living better to attract families to want to live there which also includes having a good school system as well as parks and recreation. An official for the City of Fairmont told 5 News there are a lot of aspects that go into a positive economy.
"In Fairmont and in Marion County we combat the issue of quality of life and all of those elements have really been talked about in a comprehensive way because we work together for that common vision that's where we see our greatest success," said Kathy Wyrosdick, Director of Planning Development for the City of Fairmont.
5 News talked about this bad reputation we have as a state, so what's it going to take to fix this issue? The economist 5 News spoke with said it's going to take two things. For the state to do more to understand where these statistics come from so they can help fix it and the second thing is up to us.
"It's up to people to make decisions about how they leave and about their lifestyle. The extent that greater education and awareness and programs of some sort that can give incentive to people to really try to engage in healthier behaviors. That's what is going to be needed to reverse some of these numbers," said Jane Ruseski, Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at WVU.
Ruseski told 5 News the healthier an area is, the more productive they are, and in turn the better the economy will be.