Obesity & Diabetes

Almost Heaven, West Virginia?

Health care statistics point to alarming trends nationwide and particularly in the American South. Recent information sheds an increasingly concerned light on the health problems of West Virginian adults.

Statistics measuring the use of prescription drugs shows West Virginia leading the nation in a category no one would ever want to lay claim. The average West Virginian fills 17.7 prescriptions annually according to Verispan, a health care information company. This is 53% higher than any other state in the nation.

Not surprising the rates of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions linked to lifestyle are higher in West Virginia than most states in the nation. For example their rates for heart disease were 237 per 1000 versus a national mean of 200.

Last year alone our nation spent an the equivalent of $1,000 for every man, woman and child in America on prescription medications. What were the top sellers? Lipitor, a drug used to control high cholesterol followed by Nexium (gastro-intestinal medication) and Plavix (drug for reducing risk of heart attack or stroke). All three of these conditions can be controlled through proper diet and exercise in a majority of cases.

While West Virginia is singled out in this article no state is faring well in the battle against chronic diseases caused by obesity and poor lifestyle choices. A broader campaign that offers alternative means of exercise during work hours (such as treadmill desks) and greater emphasis on healthy food choices would go a long way to restoring the health of West Virginians and the rest of America as well.