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January 28, 2004
WEST Virginia native Morgan Spurlock is causing national shock waves.
He lived for a
month on nothing but McDonald’s fast food, with ugly results. He
gained 25 pounds,
suffered a one-third leap in cholesterol, experienced liver damage and
felt other health
woes. Doctors monitored his progress. Everything was filmed for his
Me,” which won the top documentary award at the Sundance Film
McDonald’s won’t discuss this disturbing report. We don’t know all the
and we find it hard to believe that such ominous results would be
suffered by everyone
under similar conditions.
However, the movie performs a valuable service by spotlighting
obesity epidemic, which affects West Virginia more than most other
states — and the
It’s depressing that Americans are getting fatter than people in other
nations, and it’s
doubly depressing that West Virginia is leading the ponderous parade.
Vision Shared, the state’s development initiative, was warned this
month that fat is a
growing health menace in the Mountain State. The state’s adult obesity
— a designation
more extreme than mere overweight — climbed from 15 percent in 1990 to
23 percent in
2000, well above national rates. Nearly 43 percent of West Virginia
screened in a health study were found overweight, and one-fourth were
Partly as a result, West Virginia now has America’s worst death rate.
The state medical
association says excess weight triggers diabetes, heart attacks,
strokes, bone and joint
problems, and even cancer. One-fifth of the $400 million yearly cost
of the state’s Public
Employees Insurance Agency can be traced to obesity, officials say.
cause of the high death rate is excessive smoking in West Virginia.)
Restaurant “fast food” increasingly is replacing family dinners, as
rushed people scurry
to keep hectic schedules. For example, Cross Lanes, an unincorporated
suburb west of
Charleston, contains more than 30 fast-food outlets. Many teens in
that area live by
grabbing burgers during their busy days. Some even reject healthy
and visit fast-food spots instead.
Compounding the problem is today’s sedentary lifestyle, with few
people walking, and
most using cars for even absurdly short trips.
Various public programs are trying to steer West Virginians away from
fatty foods and
into more exercise. Walk-for-health billboards have sprouted around
We hope that Mountain State folks begin responding to these efforts.
It’s an individual
matter. Each person is responsible for his or her food intake and
exercise. Nobody else
can do it for you. Only you can decide for yourself.
We hope that more people choose health, and begin to reverse West
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