House call: Why do the obesity statistics in West Virginia continue to grow?- Part 1

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:25 PM EDT
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More than 35% of the state’s population is currently obese, and projections indicate that by 2025, the percentage will go up to 45, according to the CDC. Last spring, United Hospital Center conducted a Health Needs Assessment, which indicated that obesity was one of the most concerning issues among residents in Harrison and Doddridge counties. Joining us tonight for part one of a two part series concerning obesity is UHC Family Practitioner and Healthy Harrison Board Member, Dr. Goode, welcome to House Call.

1). Why does obesity continue to be an ongoing issue for West Virginians?

We didn’t end up here over night. According to the CDC, obesity numbers have been growing since the mid 1980′s. Essentially, our behaviors have changed dramatically. Poor diets, physical inactivity, and poor mental health have all contributing factors to this issue.

The majority of what our country eats today is heavily processed and loaded with added sugar. We live at a fast pace and usually try and grab something on the go, which is easy and doesn’t require much work. At the same time, we are faced with a growing number of people who live sedentary lifestyles. Today, the typical job requires people to sit at a desk all day, and when they go home, they’re exhausted and want to relax. When you add stress and anxiety on top of all that, you end up with a formula for obesity and weight issues.

However, in my time as a Board Member with Healthy Harrison, I have seen a new hope that we can have a healthier tomorrow. We have been working diligently to develop new and innovative ways that can transform the culture and bring forth a stronger community in West Virginia. And I am excited about that.

2). What is being done at Healthy Harrison that is so unique?

We have done our research to identify the world’s foremost expert in the field of behavior design BJ Fogg Ph.D. is an American social scientist who is currently a research associate at Stanford University. Dr. Fogg developed a method called “Tiny Habits”, which breaks complex issues, such as obesity, down into small, simple steps that can be customized to individuals.

Healthy Harrison has adopted this methodology to create the Micro Goals program, which has seen tremendous results. If we hope to decrease obesity in West Virginia, it will need to be done in a similar fashion. Small and simple steps.

3). Why is it important to talk about obesity right now?

There is no question that obesity and metabolic disorders have created a number of health issues for our community. COVID 19 has created a great since of urgency for us to discuss obesity. Two retrospective cohort studies published in Annals of Internal Medicine reinforce the notion that individuals with obesity are at greater risk for worse outcomes from COVID 19. More than ever, we need to begin changing our behaviors and implement small changes that will, overtime, have a big impact on our health.

Recommended daily habits.

· Park Furthest Away At The Store/ Work

· Add 1 Fruit or Vegetable Each Day

· Implement Breathing Exercises After Lunch

Healthy Harrison has recently started a new campaign called “The Health Games”. The goal is to partner with a local community in Harrison County and develop a blueprint for health that can be replicated throughout the state of West Virginia. With a focus on obesity, we are challenging each community to come up with their own plan and strategy for implementing these simple, daily habits.

If you are interested in participating, we invite you to visit and click the “support your community” button.

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